Thermophile is an exploration in sustainable, active-facade development operating on the simple principle of thermal expansion. Relying on analog response created solely by material properties, the system is lightweight and simple, requiring no computer control, complex manufacturing processes, or electricity.
A responsive, efficient architecture is crucial in this day and age where climate issues become increasingly and alarmingly relevant. Responsive building envelopes have the capacity to make architecture far more dynamic, particularly in addressing solar heat gain mitigation and facilitation.
As an advanced technological society our natural tendency is to turn to advanced mechanical systems and robotics in order to produce dynamism, but there are pitfalls to this approach. Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe hosts a brilliant dynamic facade with thousands of mechanical apertures, many of which have tragically seized in various states of operation only twenty years on.
In some sense, Thermophile is a conceptual response to this shortcoming, in addition to being responsive in the more physical sense. It is a marriage of parametric design and layout tools with a thermomechanical structure which draws conceptual roots from more traditional passive environmental control ideals, leveraging natural physical and environmental conditions to induce motion in a dynamic sunshade. As a result it is mechanically simple, with few moving parts and simple joints, and has the added advantage of every unit in the larger structure being totally independent and self-regulating without the need for electricity or outside control. The advantage is twofold. Not only does the system further reduce energy use by operating solely on solar heat, but its self-contained nature means that it does not require a bespoke construction to host it. With development and simple solar analysis, it could be efficiently paneled onto any structure that lies in a suitable climate.