DRIPS: Dynamic Regenerative Integrated Polymeric Skins
The DRIPS system is the choreography of flexible material tectonics in response to climate forces and interior building demands. Conceived in diurnal cycles that shift from an adsorptive membrane during the night to an insulative membrane during mid-day, DRIPS is an intelligent polymeric envelope design. During regeneration of the adsorptive hydrogel, water condensate is released for potable water use. The insulation membrane expands into full deployment at peak regeneration. The system is dynamic and functions due to the interwoven polymeric elements of flexible polytetrafluoroethylene and hydrogels, which kinetically expand during moisture sorption and contract during synaeresis.
Air-to-Water Metabolic Systems
Conventional building design consists of a structural system, a mechanical system, a floor plate ratio relative to spatial configuration, and a building enclosure. Typical building design processes are based on classical thermodynamic models, which separate environmental resources and controls from the structural, spatial, and material conditions of architecture. The proposition for air-to-water metabolic systems incorporates a physical theory incorporating passive and active air-exchange processes integrated with structural morphology and utilizing an ecological efficacy metric to determine overall building morphology. In particular, this design research focuses on the building envelope aspect for innovative models of environmental resource metabolism. In contrast to existing models based on the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), this shift in organizational schemes for effective metabolic and thermodynamic processes postulates architecture based upon the second law of thermodynamics and an evaluative premise of holistic entropy.
Lung Wall: Gelly Buttons
The lung wall is composed of a series of gelly button modules. Each gelly button module consists of a bass wood frame with a polyacrylamide hydrogel form mechanically fastened to the outer face, with a laser-cut acrylic ring mediating the joint. The cavity of each module is negatively pressurized, causing a passive suction force for effective moisture sorption through the hydrogel. The hydrogels effectively expand and contract with changes in moisture levels. When the various polygonal forms are stacked in arrays, the patterns of gelly buttons breathe humidity in and out, functioning similar to a series of lungs.
Entropy + Statistical Mechanics
The essence of matter is conceived through its micro-scale properties, genetic behaviors, and anatomical traits. An emphasis on material studies in this research framework is based on the premise that architecture operates within a cultural realm, and that culturally-situated building technologies tend to be embedded within a material logic responsive to particulars as opposed to applied mechanical solutions responsive to universals. This material innovation framework focuses on dehumidification systems that offer increased water-holding capacity, mechanical movement, solar modulation, and water-condensate collection by means of passive dynamic environmental response. Hydrogels are one such material technology that exhibit mechanical work upon interaction with water vapor, provide a varying index of refraction, and have the potential to release water condensate, lending to high efficacy systems. Early conceptions of hydrogel dynamics in this research evolved through complementary studies in visualizing viscoelastic molecular entropy (Maxwell relation) and in physically testing sorption properties.
Dynamic Hygrothermal Polymeric Membranes
This series of physical model studies explores the terrain of phase changes between humidity and condensation at the intersection of hydrophilic polymeric material technology. Polyacrylamide hydrogels are embedded within mesh and laser cut mylar membranes, and one iteration incorporates microbore tubing. As humid air passes through the mesh the hydrogels adsorb moisture and expand, resulting in turgid morphological conditions. As humid air passes across the microbore tubing, moisture condenses and flows by capillary action into the hydrogels, which then expand and contract with each phase change. Another iteration incorporates hydrogel within a perforated elastomeric encapsulation to actuate ventilation apertures during moisture sorption. A mesh gel pod is less dynamic but functions as a breathable interior ceiling passively adsorbing moisture from convective buoyancy and stratification.
Interscalar Morphological Analyses
This series of diagrams depicts morphological responses to various humidity transport phenomena, including vapor pressure, stratification, convective force, maximizing surface area, and temperature differentials. The spatial and material conditions are designed as particular responses to very specific physics with the intention of metabolizing humidity flows within building systems. The spatial conditions are most pronounced at the building scale, but also manifest at the system scale, while the material conditions formalize at a much smaller scale. Physics of vapor pressure differential is conceptualized through a series of hydrogel chambers covering the surface area of the building envelope, where localized pressure differentials encourage sorption. Convective buoyancy within large interior spaces creates stratification of hotter humid air near the ceiling surfaces, which can be lined with hydrophilic material for moisture sorption. Convective forces that occur naturally on the exterior of buildings can be utilized through choreography of intelligent desiccant articulation to allow for effective sorption of humidity. Maximization of desiccant surface area through folding and repetition of an organic boundary condition provides increased potential for humidity sorption. Taking advantage of temperature differentials and surface temperatures in correlation to dew point temperatures allows for vapor condensation collection.
Double Skin Envelope Integrated Hygrothermal Louvers
The double skin envelope integrated hygrothermal louvers are conceived as a next generation design of advanced environmental building envelope technology and direct outdoor air systems. This configuration addresses multiple environmental criteria simultaneously. The operable louver system allows for control of indirect natural daylighting to interior habitable space. The double skin facade provides a weather barrier protection, but is integrated with outdoor air intake to allow for outdoor air processing across the hydrogel louver system within the cavity of the facade. In its dry state, the lyophilized hydrogel has a decent resistance value, and can be configured to provide additional insulation barrier for heat resistance. In order to actuate water condensate release from the hydrogel by synaeresis, grafted chains are incorporated in the hydrogel synthesis. A hydrogel matrix with hydrophobic channels is designed to allow for condensate collection, and the integration of flexible PEX tubes incorporate system water transfer for building water use. The integration of encapsulated phase change materials within the hydrogel matrix provides a heat sink for the latent energy from adsorption, thus maintaining both more reasonable air temperatures exiting the cavity and adequate hydrogel material temperatures. The outer face of each louver is coated with titanium oxide nanometer powder in combination with spectrally selective coating for UV absorption to initiate photocatalysis of any air contaminants carried through the cavity. A PM2.5 filter may be incorporated at the air intake at the base of the double skin facade, and induction fans may be integrated at the base and top points along the length of the cavity to assist adequate air flow rates. This system proposition allows for simultaneity of building envelope functions (natural daylighting control, thermal barrier) in addition to outdoor air processing (humidity sorption and photocatalysis) for dedicated fresh air supply, thus improving indoor air health.
Agarose Louver Membrane
The louver membrane is conceived as an array of cycloids, which fluctuate dependent upon moisture flows and sorption rates. The louver membrane is intended to be a self-regulating skin, one that expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. The physical membrane is constructed with a laser-cut mylar film and an overlay of fiber-mesh to restrain a layer of agarose hydrogel, which is poured across the surface and cured to gelation. The membrane is translucent, allowing for light transmission, and responds to changes in humidity.
Leuconoid + Syconoid
The syconoid is a type of sponge that consists of a series of pleated folds on its exterior walls to allow for fluid flows into its main body. This bio-mimetic module performs a similar function of capturing airflow through convective buoyancy from its base, and capturing the humidity from the airflow across the underside of the top of each module due to moisture stratification. These modules allow for natural ventilation into interior spaces, and also serve as indirect daylighting apertures. The modules are composed of cast glass, and incorporate translucent hydrogel interior lining, and can be integrated within an insulated wall system.
The leuconoid is the largest and most complex of sponge species. The complexity exists in its numerous canals to allow for fluid flows throughout and across its surface area. This design takes advantage of maximizing surface area exposure of hydrophilic polymer skins linked to a capillary network for fluid condensation flows. The maximization of surface area allows or effective humidity sorption as air passes through and around the complex interwoven configuration.
Hinge Flow Networks
Conception of the interactions between medium (humidity) and matter (hydrogels) is studied simultaneously in a series of hypothetical study sketches and potential material developments. The sketches envision the correlation between humidity flows and flexible, responsive hydrogel compositional networks. This concept blends the rational components of hinges and networks with corresponding negative space in response to the interactive flows between humidity and hydrophilic polymers. The materials are in development for future physical constructs and empirical manifestations of the concept.
Intelligent Adaptive Control
The Intelligent Adaptive Control (IAC) concept is a framework for integrating machine learning within both the design process and post-occupancy building system for socio-environmental adaptation. The IAC links together three parallel design development platforms (physical, simulation, and analysis) to integrate optimal adaptive conditions for environmental and/or social performance criteria into the building facade. The building envelope is one that is dynamic and adaptive to varying external and internal conditions, with embedded material intelligence as well as integrated sensor networks for distributed control and modulation. This framework allows for a variety of socio-environmental conditions to be simulated both digitally and physically to enable designers to make informed decisions about the building envelope functions in the design process. The physical test chamber is constructed with two representative volumes of outdoor and indoor conditions, divided by various dynamic building envelope prototypes. The baseline prototype utilized for calibration of the IAC policy is an electrochromic film that responds to electric charge, which is actuated by an algorithm that integrates photometric sensing data through an Arduino.
Chris Lasch, Pierre Lucas, Clayton Morrison, Kuo Peng, Alice Wilsey, Long Long
The Gel-based Evaporative-cooling Membranes (GEMs) are lightweight adaptive membranes that allow for actuation of ventilative flaps with small hydro-pump sending water to embedded hydrogels. As warm airflow passes through the openings and across the saturated gels, evaporation is induced and a cooling effect is carried to interior space. Microbore tubing links between the hydro-pump and the gel sacks. Initial membranes are being tested in the environmental test chamber for psychrometric data and cooling effects on interior space.
BENCH: Biorhythmic Evaporative-cooling Nano-teCH
The BENCH is conceived as a novel building skin for architectural enclosures responsive to hot arid climate conditions. The membrane system concurrently integrates natural ventilation cooling and modulations in daylighting transmission for inhabitant wellbeing and multi-sensory phenomena experience. The first BENCH prototype combines CNC shaped glu-lam plywood with tension cable cross-bracing for the structure of a small covered seating area with human responsive atmospheric effects. The membrane encloses the structure with embedded nano-gels that are actuated with water pumping into the mesh pod modules through clear microbore tubing. Each gel pod module expands during swelling, which induces the lift of an outer flap to allow for airflow through the skin. When air flows through the flaps, it carries humidity off of the gel pods and into the surrounding atmosphere for human thermal comfort cooling effects. There are three small water pumps located under each bench module on the floor. Humidity and temperature sensors are surrounding the BENCH and link to an automated pump actuation through Arduino servo motor control. There is a string of small white LED lighting integrated within the BENCH for nighttime conditions. The BENCH prototype is under construction and being pre-tested with sensing and actuating functionality in an environmental test-chamber at the designer’s lab.
Valeria Norato, Zechariah Feng, Jialiang Ye, Nicholas Giambanco, Zach Peters, Buck Jackson