Materials that react to the immediate environment are popping up everywhere. In some fields this is not something new. Clothing design may be at the forefront of this idea with clothing the helps regulate the temperature of the wearer’s body. Gore-tex was on one of the first of these materials as is maintains breathability and moisture management. Somatex is a newer material that is able to remove excess heat and sweat from the wearer. PCMs have even crept their way into the field with the introduction of what is called Smart Fabric Technology. The material is able to both absorb and release heat. It can store excess heat from the body to reduce over-heating. This stored heat can be released back to the body when needed.
Other fields are now trying to keep up. Architecture is amongst these. Recently a few materials have emerged that will make this happen more rapidly. One of these is dynamic paint. While this coating was originally designed for safety, as a coating for roadways to alert drivers to icy conditions, it could used in architecture to create a more dynamic building, camouflage a space or regulate solar gain during summer months, but allow for it when it’s cooler. Check out the Smart Highway Project for more information on the use of dynamic paint on the roads of the Netherlands.
Thermobimetal is another material that has found its way into the the architectural realm. While it was originally produced for use in thermostats, architect Doris Kim Sung used it in here sculptural installation entitled Bloom. Her fascination with the material has led her to investigate the materials integration into common building materials. She has successfully placed the material into glass and bricks that prevent direct light penetration into buildings and opens for venting when heated. The images below diagram how both the glazing and CMU blocks operate.
Materials such as these will change the way we build and what we build with.