Solar Gate: Bioinspired and Biobased 4D-printing for Weather-responsive Smart Shading

This talk will take place at HouseZero, 20 Sumner Rd at 12pm noon. Registration is required (please email [email protected]).

The Solar Gate is an adaptive shading system that assists in the indoor climate regulation of the livMatS Biomimetic Shell, located at the University of Freiburg, by shielding its interior from high heat loads during the summer while allowing thermal energy to penetrate the building during the winter.

Through co-designing hygromorphic 4D-printed elements with an architectural building envelope, the shading system passively self-shapes in response to changes in daily and seasonal weather cycles without using any operating energy. The project consists of integrative developments in the testing and tuning of hygroscopic cellulose-based filament materials, the design and 4D-printing of motion mechanisms in the context of environmental and site conditions, as well as the control of the Solar Gate along with the monitoring of its performance. This lecture will present the challenges of transferring research from the lab to a real building application and the current work on allowing the passive functionality to be overridden by the building occupants through an intelligent control system.

As the first truly 4D-printed weather-responsive adaptive shading system, the Solar Gate represents a step towards a more sustainable, resource-efficient, and energy-autonomous solution for regulating comfort in our built environment.


Headshot of Tiffany Cheng. Tiffany is a creative technologist from Taiwan with a background in architecture and robotic fabrication. Interested in the intersections between materials, computation, and design, her research focuses on the creation of digital-physical workflows that allow mass-customization of material properties, behavior, and performance. Currently, Tiffany is a Visiting Researcher from the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Cluster of Excellence IntCDC at the University of Stuttgart, where she researches bio-inspired self-shaping structures enabled by 4D-printing. At the Center for Green Buildings and Cities, she aims to co-develop strategies for programming material systems in buildings to be smarter and more sustainable. Previously, Tiffany received her Master in Design Studies (with a concentration in Technology) from the GSD at Harvard University. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture and Minor in Digital Studies from the University of Southern California.