Do you ever have one of those moments when your only response is “holy shit”? That was my response when I first saw this movie of the homeostatic facade. The system uses dielectric elastomers to create a facade that transforms when exposed to direct sunlight.
I, like most of you, had no idea what a dielectric elastomer was. Enter Wikipedia…
There you have it. A dielectric elastomer is composed of elastomeric film that when exposed to a current contracts. In the case of Decker Yeardon’s product, the elastomers are connected to a flexible polymer core. Silver electrodes cover the elastomer. This distributes the current and acts as a reflector in the system as the bands bend away from each other like the wings of a butterfly.
When this system is installed in a double glazed system it reacts to the conditions passively and automatically to regulate solar gain. It also creates a dynamic system that changes throughout the day in response to solar conditions.
While I could not find a reason for it, the pattern that the example contains is similar to that of the brain or some types of coral reefs. It makes me curious what the concept was or if there was a biological process in one of these systems that played a role in the development of this product.
Much of contemporary architecture employs glazed facades. These double-skin glass walls, while creating transparency, pose a problem with solar gain. Homeostatic facades have the potential to improve environmental conditions in commercial, glazed buildings and will lead to a reduction in energy needs. As glazed facades don’t seem to be disappearing, but ever increasing, more systems of this sort are sure to pop up. I personally can’t wait to bring this dynamism into architecture.