Sung’s installation, “Bloom,” at the Materials & Applications gallery in Los Angeles, opens and closes according to environmental conditions. Photo: Brandon Shigeta
To build a smarter building, you could start with making better sensors. Or you could take a cue from biologist-turned-architect Doris Kim Sung and invent building materials that react to the environment on their own, bypassing the on/off switch entirely.
“We can’t do net-zero energy just by making mechanical systems more efficient,” Sung explained in a TED Talk earlier this year, which was released online Thursday. Instead, Sung takes our natural biological defenses as a model. “What I propose is that our building skins should be more similar to human skin, and by doing so can be much more dynamic and responsive,” said the architect, who is principal of dO|Su Studio Architecture and an assistant professor at the University of Southern California