Monday, 26 September 2011

Solar Responsive Kinetic Facade Shading Systems inspired by plant movements in nature

M Arch in Technology 2010/11, Department of Architecture and Built Environment,
University of Nottingham

Abstract: Interactive facade technology is a way of designing building envelopes which can change their properties or form in response to various environmental stimuli like temperature, humidity, solar radiation, etc. The objective of this study is to develop a kinetic facade shading device inspired by the principle behind plant movements in nature, to analyse the potential of the system for its practical applications in facades and to examine the factors which determine the efficiency of shading device. The hinge-less bending deformation property of plants is translated into a kinetic shading device, featuring curve line folding mechanism, using flexible polymers. The designed component is tested using ANSYS static structural analysis. The application of verified component in building facades of different geometries is demonstrated using physical paper models and digital models. Further, the possibility of applying the principles of leaf rolling mechanisms in nature to design solar responsive actuator is demonstrated using smart materials.
Keywords: adaptive facade shading, biomimetics, curve-line folding, flexible polymers, shape memory alloys

Raul has won the Best Presenation Award in the MC 2011 Conference. The full paper can be found on the NCEUB website I have posted on the 20th September blog.


  1. This method is very interesting. It reminds me about a Jean Nouvel's project.

    In which the facade moves responding to the sunshine. It's a very complex system that has had some failures but still works well.

    In a rhino workshop with a group we designed a roof with parameters capable to respond to the sunshine and the temperature. It wasn't very easy but finally we made it. I don't have pictures of it, but I have The grasshopper's formula.

    The use of natural elements could bring a new sort of sustainable building with environmental facades.
    In Chile The consorcio building (search in Google) has a system of double facade being the first of this a natural one, which let The sunshine pass on winter and protects The building from it on summer.

  2. The access to the paper is forbidden on the NCEUB website.
    Would it be possible to make it accessible please?
    I am writing a master thesis on this topic and it would be a very helpful source. Thank you.