Smart Materials are fuel for parametric wildfire – A dynamic synergy between innovation, sustainability and efficiency.
Sat Aug 19, 2023
As per a report by IMARC Group, the global smart market will reach US$ 97.3 Billion by 2028. Architects and designers proactively integrate these intelligent materials into their design tools to revolutionise architecture and parametric outcomes.
Let’s explore the top 22 innovative materials and ways to implement them in the parametric architecture.
Smart materials modify in response to external environments or stimuli, offering several benefits when integrated with parametric design, such as,
Shape-memory material, like Nitinol, can remember and change back to its original shape after deformation, facilitating dynamic and adaptive structures in the parametric architecture.
Piezoelectric tiles can generate electricity when subjected to mechanical stress to provide electrical supply, energy efficiency and sustainability.
Margot Krasojevic proposes a trolley bus garden in Seattle to convert bus pulses into electricity.
Self-healing concrete can self-repair cracks and damages without external intervention. It enables parametric structures to retain their longevity, durability, design complexity and intricacies without compromising structural integrity.
Biodynamic cement contains self-cleaning agents, like bacteria or polymers, to clean the material surface when exposed to environmental impact.
Thermobiometals are lightweight, durable, heat-responsive materials that enable dynamic and adaptive design solutions, which can curl on heating and flatten when cooled.
Hydroceramics are composites of hydrogel and clay ceramic. It enhances energy efficiency by lowering interior temperatures through heat- and water-responsive properties.
Here’s the proposal for a cooling pavilion by IAAC students showcasing hydro ceramic skin.
Electrochromic glasses are smart glasses that can change their opacity with electricity. It can tint windows and create privacy screens, smart mirrors, security windows, sunroofs, and wearable devices.
Photochromic materials change colour in response to light. Advanced tools can be used to design and simulate interactive photochromic structures to protect from UV rays and create dynamic facades.
Liquid crystals change their optical properties with electricity to provide dynamic glazing. These are faster than the electrochromic glass and change their opacity instead of tinting them.
We can find the glazing technologies incorporating liquid crystals on the roof of BAFTA 195 Piccadilly in London.
Phase-changing materials store and release heat when changing from one state to another. These are incorporated into building materials to improve passive cooling and regulate interior temperatures.
The Floating Ball of Rotterdam, Netherlands, incorporates PCM in the internal glazing as a thermal buffer.
Aerogel’s high porosity and low thermal conductivity make it ideal for insulation, energy efficiency and thermal management in sustainability projects.
Graphene is extremely strong yet the lightest building material known. It facilitates innovation, flexibility and efficiency through its high-conductive, low-weight properties.
Skanska Costain Strabag JV uses Graphene-reinforced 3D-printed concrete in London railways to optimise their strength and tensility.
Morphluid aims to create a passive cooling system using movable structures with transition liquids to control the heat and light entering the built space. Evaporation triggers movement to provide shade.
Here’s a ‘Morphluid’ prototype developed by IAAC
Soro involves soft, flexible, lightweight robots for passive cooling. It utilises liquids with low boiling points for inflation and deflation, providing an energy-efficient shading solution for architecture.
Here’s a ‘Soft Robotics’ prototype developed by IAAC.
Light-generating concrete is an intelligent material that absorbs sunlight or artificial and emits visible light in the dark. Apart from promoting sustainability through energy efficiency, these materials can also increase the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the parametric structures.
Hygromorphic materials change the structural shape of the material in response to moisture or water molecules. Designers can manipulate these materials through parametric configuration and simulation for desired adaptive responses.
Dielectric elastomers create adaptive, lightweight, and energy-efficient building components by transforming their shape under an electric field. Parametrically designed buildings incorporate their shape-shifting abilities to provide dynamic and sustainable structures.
Integrating smart materials into the software database is vital to manipulate the desired outcomes. Advanced designing software tools such as Rhino, Houdini, Maya, Blender, etc., optimise the material properties to maximise their potential by providing,
Parametric design is an approach that uses algorithms and parameters to create and manipulate complex, adaptive, and customisable architectural forms.
It involves integrating responsive materials that adapt to environmental changes, enhancing energy efficiency and user experience.
To create dynamic, interactive structures that respond to stimuli, enabling efficient and sustainable building solutions.
Smart materials examples include shape memory alloys, piezoelectric materials, electrochromic glass, and self-healing concrete.
It facilitates smart material integration into parametric designs by enabling simulations and optimising material behaviour for enhanced performance.
An Architect + Writer, Saili has worked as an Architectural writer & brand storyteller where she has collaborated with firms, studios, organizations, luxury brands, events & educational institutions to communicate in the real estate & travel industry. Her recent initiatives include curating an online workshop on communication and networking within the AEC industry. She is a commentator on the design industry’s upkeep through her social handles while also being an avid reader and traveler.