Taking inspiration from the human skin, biologist turned architect Doris Kim Sung has proposed developing building 'skins' that perform the same function as the human skin and do away with the need for air conditioning.
What is surprising is that the material Doris Kim Sung plans to use for her sustainable design concept has been around for 100 years and is so simple.
It is a thermo-bimetal strip - two thin pieces of metal such as copper and steel sandwiched together. These two metals expand and contract when heated and cooled. When it's hot, the metal bends one way. When it's cold, it bends the other, the Discovery News reported.
Sung has two main concepts in mind for the bimetal. Both would require no additional energy other than the sun, a concept know as 'passive solar' in architectural speak.
"I'm proposing to use it on the skin of buildings for a few different purposes. One is as an automatic sun-shading screen and the second basic application is for ventilation as a way to release hot air from the building," she said, according to Humans Invent.
When direct sunlight hits the bimetal strips, they would bend inwards and close together to shade the building. Conversely, when the building gets too hot, the metal could bend in such way that opens up "pores" to release heat.
"I don't know if we will ever get to the point where we can truly be rid of air conditioning, especially in certain parts of the world, but the definite hope is to reduce the necessity to require air conditioning," Sung said.