Bimetals in Architecture: Learning from Materials

Bimetallic strips are made up of two strips with of different metals joined together in length. Each metal has a different expansion rate and when the two metals together (as a bimetal) are heated, the expansions rates force the flat strip to bend one direction if heated and the opposite direction if cooled.

sourced from DO|SU Studio Architecture Blog

USC researcher, Doris Kim Sung, uses bimetals to provide answer to her question of why architecture has to be static. She uses bimetals to show the use of bimetals as a sun shading device, as well as for ventilating. She is continuing her research to bring these dynamic ideas toward architectural materials.

This material seems so underutilized with so much potential. I see a lot of similarities to questions being asked in the Biomimicry Studio right now. In our biomimicry studio we have defined architectural problems, which we then look to nature to try to understand how nature has solved the same types of problems, and then implement solutions in our designs. Doris Kim Sung’s research and installation using bimetals brings up a point that we may be able to use this biomimetic way of thinking without even looking to biology. Looking to the actual properties of the materials we use in a new way, or learning from them at a different scale could solve similar issues that we look to biomimicry to solve. I don’t think this has to be something completely separate from biomimicry, I think the two ideas could work in tandem quite well.


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