International Research Collaboration: Soft Adaptive Building Skins for Energy-Efficient Architecture

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Faculty from Princeton University and the American University in Cairo are teaming up for a collaborative research project titled "Soft Adaptive Building Skins for Energy-Efficient Architecture." Research is being conducted bySherif Abdelmohsen (Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Design Computing at the Department of Architecture, American University in Cairo), Sigrid Adriaenssens (Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University), and Guy Nordenson (Professor of Structural Engineering and Architecture at Princeton University).

Project Abstract: The purpose of adaptive building skins is to actively moderate the influence of weather conditions on the building’s interior environment. Current adaptive skins rely on rigid body motions, complex hinges and actuation devices. These attributes are obstacles to their broader adoption in low-carbon buildings. This project explores these challenges and solutions. The core idea of soft adaptive skins is that they exploit the systems’ elasticity to respond to stimuli. However, designing such a skin is a challenging task due to the interaction between geometry, elasticity and environmental performance. If successful, these skins will reduce energy consumption in the construction industry. However at the heart of our proposal is the exchange of people and ideas. Our mega objectives are to i) deepen intellectual engagement between Princeton University and American University in Cairo, ii) progress the existing body of knowledge on adaptive building skins and iii) prepare for collaborative research and teaching beyond this grant. Our partnership focuses on i) exchange of faculty and grad students, ii) workshop and lectures as a research platform, and iii) submission of conference paper and  research proposals to other funding bodies.