Energy Conservation is Skin-Deep - Design Bureau



Energy Conservation is Skin-Deep

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The human skin acts as a mediator between the body and the outside environment; it can regulate its temperature throughout various climates. Similarly, in architecture, a building’s skin is its barrier between the indoors and the rest of the world. Doris Sung of dO|Su Studio Architecture sought to make man-made structures as acutely adaptive as the human body.

Her project, “Armoured Corset,” is a massive art installation composed of woven thermobimetal (TBM) tiles. The TBM tiles are heat-sensitive and react by curling slightly while still holding their structure. This “performance architecture” originated from a study that proposes a new way for buildings to monitor their temperatures through self-ventilation. As the tiles curl, gaps open up in the structure, allowing a breeze to pass through. It has the potential to reduce the need for artificial cooling and unnecessary energy/emissions waste. 

Sung believes that, rather than inventing complex technological solutions to problems, we should try to mimic the perfect examples that exist right in front of us. Though auto-ventilation flaps have been used in greenhouses for quite a while, the concept has never been attempted or explored on building-scale. Just imagine, a living, breathing exoskeleton encasing every structure in a city, from houses to high-rises, changing as the weather changes. Futuristic? Yes. Attainable? Quite possibly.

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