A conceptual design for artificial antimicrobial viruses is described. The design emulates viral assembly and function to create self-assembling peptide capsules that promote efficient gene delivery and silencing in mammalian cells. Unlike viruses, however, the capsules are antimicrobial, which allows them to exhibit a dual biological function: gene transport and antimicrobial activity. Unlike other antimicrobials, the capsules act as pre-concentrated antimicrobial agents that elicit rapid and localised membrane-disrupting responses by converting into individual pores at their precise landing positions on membranes. The concept holds promise for engineering virus-like scaffolds with biologically tuneable properties.