Glittering Metallic Pavilion Morphs Itself As Temperature Changes (Video)

Doris Kim Sung Bloom installation thermobimetalDoris Kim Sung/Screen capture

We know that there are shades of nuance between the increasingly meaningless word of "sustainability" versus "resilience," and what some principles of resilient design might look like. Architect Karl Chu also uses the phrase "genetic architecture" to describe what would be a more futuristic version of this idea, envisioning an ecosystem of self-repairing, "self-aware" and adaptive buildings that "morph, process, and react" to changes in their environment.

While resilient design is not (and should not be) necessarily based on high-tech, complex solutions, it doesn't mean that creatively used, "smart" materials won't play a critical role, as seen in this experimental, 20-foot tall installation made out of a commonly-found composite material that allows it to morph in response to temperature changes. Check out the video to see it in action:

Set in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, "Bloom" is created by Doris Kim Sung, an assistant professor at University of Southern California's School of Architecture. It's made out of 14,000 pieces of bimetallic material called "thermobimetal" -- usually found in the coils of a house thermostat. This composite metal is made up of two or more layers which have different expansion coefficients. In other words, when the temperature changes, the metals expand at different rates, curling up or down, giving the appearance of a reactive skin.

Doris Kim Sung Bloom installation thermobimetalDoris Kim Sung /Screen capture

In USC's press release on Archinect, Kim says:

For a long time, my work has examined why architecture is static and non-responsive, and why it can’t be more flexible like clothing. Why do we have to adapt to architecture rather than architecture responding to us? Why can’t buildings be animated?

Doris Kim Sung Bloom installation thermobimetalDoris Kim Sung /Screen capture

The structure acts like a sun-shading canopy that automatically opens and closes itself according to changes in temperature and light, and could be also applied to venting applications.

Sung is currently working on integrating the use of thermobimetals in building components, like glazing, and "breathing" bricks, inspired by the biological capabilities of insect spiracles and trachea systems. She's also received grants to further implement her research in "re-skinning" an Airstream trailer with this material. It's a powerful demonstration of how existing materials could be used differently to reduce the need for energy-intensive, mechanical systems of artificial cooling.

Doris Kim Sung Bloom installation thermobimetalDoris Kim Sung /Screen capture

But "Bloom" is also a product of technological developments, as Kim notes:

This would not have been possible a few years ago. We didn’t have the technology to cost effectively cut thermobimetal so that no two pieces are alike, and we didn’t have the software to tessellate complex surfaces into pieces that can be fabricated.

More details over on USC's press release.

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