Receptive Skins: The Breathing Wall

Chrisoula Kapelonis 

In architecture, the building skin is the primary interface for mediating the environment of the external with the internal. But today, this mediation is mechanical, deterministic, and static—often seeing the human as a generalizable and problematic input. With advances in material science however, there is great potential to disrupt these traditional manufactured environments of architecture and turn them into responsive mediated environments. What this thesis aims to explore is this idea of the receptive skin—a sensate and dynamic multi-material interface for environmental mediation. This suggests that by departing from the view that buildings are static artifacts, we may instead begin to see buildings as organic, living entities.

Through the development of a working prototype, this project explores how such an interface may manifest itself, through dynamic material composites, instead of mechanical and electronic means. The final prototype is a “proof of concept,” a built example of this novel design methodology, which unites material performance with sensate technologies, as a way to enable new interactions between building and environment.