Contemporary double-skin glass facade systems for large buildings have both an exterior glass curtain wall and an interior glass surface that are separated by an air cavity. The air cavities often include shading mechanisms and vents that enable the system to automatically regulate heat loss and heat gain.
Our design for a homeostatic facade system advances double-skin technologies by taking advantage of the unique flexibility and low power consumption of dielectric elastomers. Our ribbon design opens and closes to control solar heat gain through the facade.
Automatically responding to environmental conditions, this highly tuned motion is achieved through a simple, elegant actuator. The actuator is an artificial muscle, consisting of a dielectric elastomer wrapped over a flexible polymer core. Expansion and contraction of the elastomer causes the flexible core to bend. A roller at the top of the polymer core ensures smooth motion as the elastomer moves.
The dielectric elastomer includes silver electrodes on both faces. The silver assists the system by reflecting and diffusing light, while distributing an electrical charge across the elastomer, causing it to deform.
Inspired by homeostasis in biological systems, our facade regulates a building’s climate by automatically responding to environmental conditions. Its advantage over conventional systems lies in its low power consumption and superior precision. Because the surface material is also the motor, it essentially offers localized control along any segment of the facade.
This high degree of control can only benefit contemporary architecture, which has become increasingly transparent. It provides thermoregulation while reducing energy consumption and its associated emissions.