Thursday Salute to Originals: “Smart” Materials

As 2013 progresses, we can’t help but wonder what the next ‘Big Thing’ will be. Technology seems to grow at such a rate that it’s hard to keep up. With the advent of mobile apps to control the environment of your house, from lighting to sound, hybrid technologies are being set up to create “smart houses”. But can materials be smart, too?

A group of students in a Master of Advanced Studies class in Switzerland designed the installation Phototropia as a response to globalization, increased connectivity, and digital identity in participative and transient systems.

Phototropia Experimental Architecture

The students describe it as ‘a proposal for an experimental architecture that can decay while actively being renewed. Phototropia explores the use of smart materials in the built environment using “self-made electro-active polymers, screen printed electroluminescent displays, eco-friendly bioplastics and thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells”. Basically the structure is meant to harvest and store solar energy to respond to its users. As the density of users increases, the structure expands and light is emitted.

Solar Materials Responsive Architectural Design Phototropia

The video below was made by the students working on Phototropia, and shows how the materials were made and how the structure would move in response to various stimuli.

This responsive architecture may be the future of our built environment and as part of an on-going project, we can’t wait to see what comes next from these inventive designers.

Image credits: CAAD. Blog