Doris Sung Creates Living Architecture Sensitive To Heat And Light

Through wild experimentation with materials the designer is able to create buildings that can respond to climate shifts.

by TCP Staff
Feb 16 2016, 4:24pm

When Doris Sung was growing up she had several ideas about how architecture was supposed to be. Faced with what the medium seemed to offer, it was static, immovable, and didn't allow a lot of room for creativity. Everything changed when she starting attending design school, and her ideas towards materials and structures transformed so much she found herself asking, "why can’t architecture accommodate the human?" and not the other way around.

Several years later, Sung is now wildly experimenting with building mediums and metals, computer software, and nature itself to create sculptures and buildings that respond to environmental stimuli, taking on a life of their own. Working with groundbreaking software like Grasshopper, utilizing basic science and chemistry, and adding in a vision all her own, Doris Sung is now at the vanguard of thermobimetal architecture. The practice of laying different alloys in order to achieve a moveable "third skin" (the first is human flesh, the second clothing and the third architecture), the technique is widely gaining momentum for its potential use in sun-shading, self-ventilating, shape-changing and structure-prestressing architecture.

Recently catching up with Sung in her native California, where she's a sustainable architect and professor at the University of Southern California, we were able to learn more about this exciting new practice, and how it will revolutionize that what we think of modern design.

See full video above.

Armoured Corset, WUHO Gallery, Hollywood, California 2010

Living in LA, Sung saw the opportunity to use this technique to make day-to-day life better. Thermobimetal (as seen above) can be used as a surface material to allow air to pass through a wall when the interior or exterior temperature gets too hot. This means that as the hot west coast sun starts to make a room unbearable, these "smart walls" will allow fresh air to come through via porous surfaces. 

Below: Bloom, Material & Applications Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Nov 2011- Aug 2012

"A sun-tracking instrument indexing time and temperature, "Bloom" stitches together material experimentation, structural innovation, and computational form/pattern making into an environmentally responsive installation. The form's responsive surface is made primarily out of 14,000 smart thermobimetal tiles, where no two pieces are alike. Each individual piece automatically curls a specified amount when the outdoor ambient temperature rises above 70F or when the sun penetrates the surface." -Doris Sung

Below Doris Sung demonstrated how heat and light are able to affect windows and other facets of architecture. See video above for full explanation.

Having studied biology at Princeton University intending to go to medical school, Sung often uses her knowledge of natural science to enhance her work as a designer. Below, the artist stands with her work Tracheolis as she explains how the flow of air and heat will change the installation's overall structure.

Below is a diagram showing how the materials respond to external stimuli. As the temperature rises, the "skin" will expand and contract accordingly.

For more on Doris Sung you can visit DOSU Studio here.

Doris Sung
DoSu Architecture