Metal that breathes | Doris Kim Sung

Metal that breathes | Doris Kim Sung

Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Morton Bast I was one of those kids that, every time I got in the car, I basically had to roll down the window. It was usually too hot, too stuffy or just too smelly, and my father would not let us use the air conditioner. He said that it would overheat the engine. And you might remember, some of you, how the cars were back then, and it was a common problem of overheating. But it was also the signal that capped the use, or overuse, of energy-consuming devices. Things have changed now. We have cars that we take across country. We blast the air conditioning the entire way, and we never experience overheating. So there’s no more signal for us to tell us to stop. Great, right? Well, we have similar problems in buildings. In the past, before air conditioning, we had thick walls. The thick walls are great for insulation. It keeps the interior very cool during the summertime, and warm during the wintertime, and the small windows were also very good because it limited the amount of temperature transfer between the interior and exterior. Then in about the 1930s, with the advent of plate glass, rolled steel and mass production, we were able to make floor-to-ceiling windows and unobstructed views, and with that came the irreversible reliance on mechanical air conditioning to cool our solar-heated spaces. Over time, the buildings got taller and bigger, our engineering even better, so that the mechanical systems were massive. They require a huge amount of energy. They give off a lot of heat into the atmosphere, and for some of you may understand the heat island effect in cities, where the urban areas are much more warm than the adjacent rural areas, but we also have problems that, when we lose power, we can’t open a window here, and so the buildings are uninhabitable and have to be made vacant until that air conditioning system can start up again. Even worse, with our intention of trying to make buildings move towards a net-zero energy state, we can’t do it just by making mechanical systems more and more efficient. We need to look for something else, and we’ve gotten ourselves a little bit into a rut. So what do we do here? How do we pull ourselves and dig us out of this hole that we’ve dug? If we look at biology, and many of you probably don’t know, I was a biology major before I went into architecture, the human skin is the organ that naturally regulates the temperature in the body, and it’s a fantastic thing. That’s the first line of defense for the body. It has pores, it has sweat glands, it has all these things that work together very dynamically and very efficiently, and so what I propose is that our building skins should be more similar to human skin, and by doing so can be much more dynamic, responsive and differentiated, depending on where it is. And this gets me back to my research. What I proposed first doing is looking at a different material palette to do that. I presently, or currently, work with smart materials, and a smart thermo-bimetal. First of all, I guess we call it smart because it requires no controls and it requires no energy, and that’s a very big deal for architecture. What it is, it’s a lamination of two different metals together. You can see that here by the different reflection on this side. And because it has two different coefficients of expansion, when heated, one side will expand faster than the other and result in a curling action. So in early prototypes I built these surfaces to try to see how the curl would react to temperature and possibly allow air to ventilate through the system, and in other prototypes did surfaces where the multiplicity of having these strips together can try to make bigger movement happen when also heated, and currently have this installation at the Materials & Applications gallery in Silver Lake, close by, and it’s there until August, if you want to see it. It’s called “Bloom,” and the surface is made completely out of thermo-bimetal, and its intention is to make this canopy that does two things. One, it’s a sun-shading device, so that when the sun hits the surface, it constricts the amount of sun passing through, and in other areas, it’s a ventilating system, so that hot, trapped air underneath can actually move through and out when necessary. You can see here in this time-lapse video that the sun, as it moves across the surface, as well as the shade, each of the tiles moves individually. Keep in mind, with the digital technology that we have today, this thing was made out of about 14,000 pieces and there’s no two pieces alike at all. Every single one is different. And the great thing with that is the fact that we can calibrate each one to be very, very specific to its location, to the angle of the sun, and also how the thing actually curls. So this kind of proof of concept project has a lot of implications to actual future application in architecture, and in this case, here you see a house, that’s for a developer in China, and it’s actually a four-story glass box. It’s still with that glass box because we still want that visual access, but now it’s sheathed with this thermo-bimetal layer, it’s a screen that goes around it, and that layer can actually open and close as that sun moves around on that surface. In addition to that, it can also screen areas for privacy, so that it can differentiate from some of the public areas in the space during different times of day. And what it basically implies is that, in houses now, we don’t need drapes or shutters or blinds anymore because we can sheath the building with these things, as well as control the amount of air conditioning you need inside that building. I’m also looking at trying to develop some building components for the market, and so here you see a pretty typical double-glazed window panel, and in that panel, between those two pieces of glass, that double-glazing, I’m trying to work on making a thermo-bimetal pattern system so that when the sun hits that outside layer and heats that interior cavity, that thermo-bimetal will begin to curl, and what actually will happen then is it’ll start to block out the sun in certain areas of the building, and totally, if necessary. And so you can imagine, even in this application, that in a high-rise building where the panel systems go from floor to floor up to 30, 40 floors, the entire surface could be differentiated at different times of day depending on how that sun moves across and hits that surface. And these are some later studies that I’m working on right now that are on the boards, where you can see, in the bottom right-hand corner, with the red, it’s actually smaller pieces of thermometal, and it’s actually going to, we’re trying to make it move like cilia or eyelashes. This last project is also of components. The influence — and if you have noticed, one of my spheres of influence is biology — is from a grasshopper. And grasshoppers have a different kind of breathing system. They breathe through holes in their sides called spiracles, and they bring the air through and it moves through their system to cool them down, and so in this project, I’m trying to look at how we can consider that in architecture too, how we can bring air through holes in the sides of a building. And so you see here some early studies of blocks, where those holes are actually coming through, and this is before the thermo-bimetal is applied, and this is after the bimetal is applied. Sorry, it’s a little hard to see, but on the surfaces, you can see these red arrows. On the left, it’s when it’s cold and the thermo-bimetal is flat so it will constrict air from passing through the blocks, and on the right, the thermo-bimetal curls and allows that air to pass through, so those are two different components that I’m working on, and again, it’s a completely different thing, because you can imagine that air could potentially be coming through the walls instead of opening windows. So I want to leave you with one last impression about the project, or this kind of work and using smart materials. When you’re tired of opening and closing those blinds day after day, when you’re on vacation and there’s no one there on the weekends to be turning off and on the controls, or when there’s a power outage, and you have no electricity to rely on, these thermo-bimetals will still be working tirelessly, efficiently and endlessly. Thank you. (Applause) (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Metal that breathes | Doris Kim Sung

  1. IMO these are cool concepts for art in architecture, but not practical. There may be another good application for this tech, but I did not see one in this presentation. BTW, bi-metals have been used in thermostats and other devices for hundreds of years. Seems like a waste of research time and money.

  2. We get TWO top comments, TWO. I want to read something smart, but on these videos all i see is people complain about the goddamn intro every time. Get over it

  3. Kind of. go to 5:21 – 6:07 and you can see that the house still has floor to ceiling windows, but the layer of thermometal is able to be opened and closed. She did say that it could be closed for privacy, so I guess maybe it could be mechanically configured to remain fully open if you wanted so (or at least that's the way I would design it XD). I'm frankly more interested in the project on 7:31, because it would be great houses in the tropics where people must rely on electricity for cooling.

  4. It not only provides shading but also autonomously regulates air conditioning and the temperature of the building – without any energy input. This would reduce the required amount of air conditioning in many buildings by a marked amount (potentially)) and with regards to manufacturing it's all a matter of economies of scale… if and when the demand for this becomes high enough it can become potentially much more economic and environmentally friendly to use such technology.

  5. Like anything in this world, if the demand for it becomes high enough the price would drastically be reduced. and the whole point of this is it both provided user specific regulation and works autonomously at 0 energy – reducing a buildings energy demand… yes electronics are cheap but the air con system isn't, buildings alone account for around 30-40% of the worlds entire energy demand so cutting that down would make a big difference.

  6. Agreed. In fact, if I weren't so damn lazy, I would download the vid, edit out the intro, tweak the sound, and emailed the file back to them. But I just can't be bothered.. 😛

  7. Everythings been around for donkeys years – it's finding a new application for already discovered technology that really happens nowadays; not much is "discovered" so I'd appreciate you not calling it a waste of research time… you don't get PhD's and a job on wasting research time and money.

  8. I appeared to only bend 1 way. I'm wondering if it could react in the opposite direction when it's cold. I'm in love with this material, and it will be in mass production soon.

  9. I agree that there are many great ways to make an individual house with thick walls (haybales being one of them, cob another), and that bi-metallic strip technology might not be great for houses, but i'm 99% sure nobody is going to make a haybale skyscraper.

  10. And incredibly complicated. How do you mass produce these things when you have to tailor them to each individual situation?

  11. So…this is cool, but on a hot day, your windows would be completely covered, right? That's so depressing. Southerners would never see the sun in the summer.

  12. No, as she mentioned in the double glazing solution she said she's working on, the thermo bimetals will curl within the cavity of the two glass sheets as they are heated, so you'd get a filtered light effect, sort of like blinds. But if each bimetal leaf was small enough, you might be able to get better visibility through the window than regular office blinds at certain temperatures. Of course, on an exceptionally hot day, people will be glad for the complete shade.

  13. Yes I did. The trick is to put different types of metal on each side of the surface. One metal expands more than the other when heated. That means once you setup the surface to open in the sun or vice versa it cannot work the other way around until you physically switch the metals from one side to the other, which is probably very impractical.

  14. Ah, the old bimetalic strip from school. I'm glad one of us was listening! I think we have invented most things but the application of said thing just needs thinking about. Good idea.

  15. Its an interesting idea. But it would need to have some sort of heat coils running through it like on the defrosters on cars to force it to shape into a 'closed' state if it happens to be raining. Plus , the integrity of the design doesnt seem like it is strong enough to be in some areas, like where im at in Florida, to be usable. It would need to be built out of titanium or something to withstand the constant threat from hurricanes. Still, its a very creative idea and warrants more research

  16. Red arrows? I must be colorblind.

    No but really i dont see this as practical, mainly because I dont really fully understand the concept. And now that i think about it, she never went into if this would be cost effective.

  17. Utterly useless idea. You'd think a biologist would know how often bugs and small animals and plants get into small spaces like that. Good luck cleaning them out.

  18. engineers and contractors deal with the actually construction and maintenance of the building, architects just want it to look a certain way

  19. Ted… it's my intro… it's theirs too…Change the Intro Ted… It's ours, we watch it… So we own it… Please change the intro Ted… Thanks, Your Viewers

  20. Gosh! This is absolutely wonderful – the millions living in houses made of high-tech mud will be queueing up for these bi-metal porches. But yes… even I get 'tired' of moving those venetian blinds – up to TWICE a day.

  21. now all you have to do is make them absorb energy like solar panels will win an NPP for sure..keep it up 🙂

  22. I cant believe your comment has so many thumbs up! I also get people moaning about how when they play the videos on my channel, the music is incredibly loud –

    The truth is, I only use HIGH QUALITY SOUND files when creating my videos.

    When you spend time watching videos on YouTube, that have POOR QUALITY SOUND, and then you watch a video with HIGH QUALITY SOUND, the consequence is that it sounds too loud.

    This fact is obviously something people like you need to hear.

  23. sounds expensive? right now it does. i carry at least 40 gb of memory in my pocket at any time. you sir, are the person that responded "Sounds expensive" to the idea of a 32 computer when 16b already existed. technology gets better and less expensive. theres a lot of things that sounded expensive.

  24. Right, you carry a 40gb of memory that is identical to everyone else's 40gb of memory. You do not carry 40gb of memory made up of uniquely constructed bits of memory that comes together to create a set of memory custom to your device.

  25. Terrible idea, it's a metal that bends up and down, is that it? Birds will get it, bugs will get it, I'm assuming it's easily broken, good luck cleaning all of it

  26. And Poland just came up with metals that dont rust and are lighter weight. I think they finally cracked the Roswell metal samples. Covetic materials, a new method of bonding carbon to base elements like silver, tin, aluminum and copper.

  27. No, it doesnt matter if I leave my Volume ALONE, one video sounds low other sounds to high, specially the damn advertisements they force us to watch.

  28. These are just prototypes man.

    Have you not seen integrated blind systems where the blinds are insulated between the two sheets of glass? Thats how this can be made practical.

  29. I's like to get to know the people who keep disliking video's like this and then improve the chances of the human race in the future, by sterilizing them.

  30. That's a nice theory, but you used a bad example. Chinese government trains their athletes more rigorously than other countries; they take the olympics more seriously than their country's scientific developments.

  31. As stated, there may be another good application for this tech, but I did not see one in this presentation. You are welcome to you opinions, I will keep mine.

  32. It's really worth to be researched.. My opinion that this research is great in optimizing the character of metal.. Indeed this skin might be still on progress, from what i see it's not very durable, especially when applied on high rise building where the wind speed is high.. But still, it's very interesting..

  33. This is not true. Look at Brazil. More than 200 million people and we do extremely poor at the Olympics. There's no such thing as being born a super genius, either you prepare yourself and put a lot of work in it (10000 hours rule) or you won't succeed. Even Einstein had to work hours and hours reading other's theories till he started developing his own. At least, I never saw "a genius" that hasn't work extremely hard to become one.

  34. You forgot to consider the cultural differences and other impacts that changes among different people. It's not as simple as saying that there are many more asians. Without emphasis on academics, you could have a million idiots. Geniuses are not born. They are trained and I hope you understand that.

  35. Hey, Africa has as many people as China. How many geniuses in Africa? How many Nobel Prize winners in Africa? How many millionaires in Africa? How many scientists in Africa? I'll bet there are more college graduates in Beijing alone than ALL of the African continent. The quantity of people has little to do with it. You should compare tiny Israel with the Congo; you'd be shocked.

  36. More of an art, than practical invention. Chameleon glass that goes black and blocks infrared is better in this situation in architecture. Metal sheets + wind. Imagine the sound when it cuts the wind and when they bend and stop working all around your house. Just no.

  37. wtf. ever heard of metal fatigue? When U double layer that shit, u quadruple the fatigue stress. Fail! It isn't going to work tirelessly. It is going to tire and crack and fatigue. Don't believe me? Any school aged idiot knows when u take a paper clip and bend it this way and that way, that the paper clip snaps after a few times. Come on! And now you laminate it and quadruple the stress. Hello? I ain't gonig to pay for somethign that is going to snap in a month.

  38. Getting less sunlight than you already do working inside all day is not really that healthy. Still a neat idea though. Reminds a bit of the work done by the Venus Project.

  39. It's a great idea for vampires. The rest of us might want to enjoy a sunny day and the benefits on mental and physical health even if we are supposed to be working and not supposed to be enjoying ourselves.

  40. At first I thought Í like this, nice' but after a moment I thought of the mosquito invasions end April …. I can see the whole wall covered by them, waiting for the opening….
    A lot of practical troubles come with this idea but on a microscopic level it could be promising!

  41. How scalable is this? As I understand this is more of a proof of concept. Does anyone know about what has been done ? I was unable to find too many resources on this online.

  42. It's a great idea, many Pros…the biggest problem I see (and of course I'm thinking of worse solutions) is that if there were to be some sort of attack on a building, house, bank, etc…..they can easily wait for the right time and gas the people inside…..

  43. Can anyone tell me more details about Thermo Bimetal please? what kind of metal do they make it? or any document about Thermo Bimetal? I'm very interested in this smart material.

  44. Very interesting….I wonder if this could be coupled with the Nano Solar sheeting that featured on a previous Tedtalk?

  45. very inspiring and stunning presentation….we look forward to have some more videos from u..Thanks for sharing !

  46. This wont get popular soon since each curve has to be customized .Architects would be too lazy unless they extensively use technology

  47. This is another excellent example of bio-mimicking but one problem I see from this is it could only be used in areas where is hot and dry. If air can pass through then water can also pass through just as easily. Then it bring the problem of oxidation. Will rusting effect the ability of theses metals to bend?

  48. This technology is millennia old. There is such a thing as the badgirs, or the WIndcatchers. Lots of them are located in Persian territories – Iran, Libya etc and are dated from several hundred to a few thousand years. In short, the towers work as air conditioning units – cooling the air to almost zero Centigrade if necessary. They are just stone – without any fancy smart metals. Hence, there is nothing new under the sun.

  49. I love this idea. It's very cool (no pun intended). BUT, the most efficient way to cool a building I've found in the past decade of internet searches is this:

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