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Last edited 05 Oct 2020
Very broadly, the term 'exoskeleton' refers to an external skeleton. In its traditional application, it describes the hard covering found on certain types of animals. It is also used to describe a wearable powered suit (or exosuit) that can be adapted as a mobile machine for industrial or medical purposes, and in relation to some built structures.
 Exosuits and construction
As an exosuit, exoskeletons made from metal and outfitted with motorised “muscles” give wearers robotic strength. This innovation is already being used to help people with disabilities walk independently. It is also being tested on construction workers as a way to help them lift and move heavy objects without causing injury.
 Exoskeletons and architecture
By picking up on the term’s connection with nature, exoskeleton buildings display a sense of biomimicry. In nature, the exoskeleton is an animal’s external armour that protects its internal systems. An exoskeleton serves a similar function in architecture. The building’s exoskeleton performs certain roles - ranging from structural to thermal - while protecting and supporting its internal systems.
In architectural and engineering applications, an exoskeleton approach is sometimes used for skyscrapers. It is a construction approach that places key components of a building on the exterior of the structure.
Instead of being covered by cladding or other surface materials, an exposed exoskeleton showcases the technical aspects of the building by putting them on display. In some instances, mechanical and engineering systems are incorporated into the exoskeleton.
One of the advantages of an exoskeleton is that it can free up interior space that would otherwise be required for columns and other structural supports. This creates an extremely flexible floorplan that can be easily adapted. Placing bracing and trusses on the outside of the building can also create an innovative and industrial aesthetic effect.
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