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Osmotic shock in a vesicle or cell is the stress build-up and subsequent rupture of the phospholipid membrane that occurs when a relatively high concentration of salt is unable to cross the membrane and instead an inflow of water alleviates the salt concentration gradient. This is a well-known failure mechanism for cells and vesicles (for example, hypotonic shock) and metal alloys (for example, hydrogen embrittlement)1–3. We propose the concept of collective osmotic shock, whereby a coordinated explosive fracture resulting from multiplexing the singular effects of osmotic shock at discrete sites within an ordered material results in regular bicontinuous structures. The concept is demonstrated here using self-assembled block copolymer micelles, yet it is applicable to organized heterogeneous materials where a minority component can be selectively degraded and solvated whilst ensconced in a matrix capable of plastic deformation. We discuss the application of these self-supported, perforated multilayer materials in photonics, nanofiltration and optoelectronics.