Introduction: Shading/Deployable Architecture

The goal of this final project was to create a prototype of responsive shading systems that could work with my thesis proposal for next semester. I am interested in the use of textiles and responsive materials and systems on a building scale and I am testing the idea that a great application could be shading devices.

Step 1: Inspiration

These are the methods/materials we looked at in class that were most intriguing to me. Shape memory alloys allow for the possibility of a deployable shading structure that deploys itself when heated. Thermochromic ink could be added to a film in glass to create glazing systems that are self shading (think transition sunglasses!)

Step 2: Thesis

I'm currently in thesis prep, getting ready for thesis next semester. I'm hoping this project can inform my thesis idea and will serve to test a few materials choices.

Step 3: Original Ideas...

The idea was to create systems in the building that responded to light and self shaded without the use of too much extra technology/electricity. I was interested in the idea of thermochromic ink being applied to a film between layers of glass and also using flexinol wire to create a shading system that would deploy when it got hot enough out.

Step 4: Materials

The idea of using this technology on a building scale means that I wanted to stay away from using Arduino or something similar because the ultimate goal is being responsive in a way that reduces energy use. This solar motor requires much less voltage than a normal motor so it seems more practical for this application.

I decided against the flexinol because even at a model scale in testing it seemed a little weak and I doubted the ability for it to be used at a building scale. The thermochromic ink becomes clear when heated which is the opposite effect I wanted in the windows, so I decided to use it on the roof!

All together I ended up using:

chipboard/museum board

thermochromic ink

gylcerin, vinegar, cornstarch, glue

solar panel

solar powered motor w small gear

fishing line

sewing needle

hollow metal tubing

painted wooden dowels

shear fabric

backup 9v battery, alligator clips

Step 5: Lets Get Started!

Realizing that the best application for thermocromic ink was really the roof, I wanted to create a piece of roofing on the model that resembled the texture of asphalt. I had previously made some bioplastic mixed with thermochromic ink shown in step 2, and I reused that by crumbling it up, adding water and some white glue and spreading it on a piece of chipboard.

The recipe for bioplastic is:

4 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. gylcerin 1 tsp. white vinegar 1 Tbsp. corn starch

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium high heat until the mixture becomes clear and begins to bubble. Mixture will be more solid them liquid. Spread onto a silicone sheet or tinfoil in a thin even layer. Let cool for a few hours.

Step 6: Begin Building

Make a housing for the motor to keep it in place and a stand for the model so the motor and backup battery can be hidden underneath. I also added a flap to the roofing panel to hold the solar panel

Step 7: Framing

To keep it all sturdy,I used some painted wooden dowels to create a frame to hold the wall and roof panel and to create a frame for the shading fabric

Step 8: Fabric

Time to add the fabric! This is the main moving piece in the project. I first attached the fishing line to the gear on the motor, leaving plenty of slack. I used hollow metal tubing bend at a 90 degree angle to fish the line through and sewed it to the fabric. Don't worry about the neatness of your stitches, the fishing line is invisible, but the size and placement of them will affect the movement once you start the motor.

Step 9: In Action

Here are 2 videos to show the outcome.

I ended up attaching a battery next to the motor and using alligator clip to connect them to show the project on a not so sunny day. In the video I am moving the gear by hand because the battery's voltage was so high the motor moves to quickly.

In the other video you can see the color change in the roofing, so when the sun comes out the roof becomes lighter and almost white so it reflects the light and heat instead of absorbing it, helping to keep the building cooler.