The increasing power of design software, the widespread availability of digital fabrication and growing complexity of our built environment are in stark contrast to the inefficient techniques that currently plague the construction industry. Today's processes of assembly can be fundamentally re-imagined by looking at biological systems that are building structures with far more complexity, information capacity and assembly instructions than even the most advanced structures possible with current technologies. Skylar Tibbits explains that the key ingredient embedded within these natural systems is self-assembly. He outlines four principles for designing systems that build themselves, and shows a number of projects that demonstrate first steps towards this new mode of architectural production. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.