is one result of KieranTimberlakes investigations into
new building materials. It was exhibited outdoors at the Cooper
Hewitt Museum over the summer.
Latrobe Fellowship proposal had its beginnings in lab discussions
about transfer technologies, and another thread running through
all four labs has been a search for new building materials.
Most walls are built up of thousands of individual parts, multiple
layers, and theyre really thick, says Kieran. What if walls
could be thinner, they asked, with the elements to provide shelter,
climate control, light, and power already integrated into the
wall when it arrived at the construction site?
Their answer is SmartWrap, a mass customizable print façade
touted as the building envelope of the future. Only millimeters
thick, it is made of a polymer materialthink plastic soda bottlescombined
with tiny components called phase-change materials (PCMs) that
control temperature, organic light-emitting diode technology
(OLED) to provide lighting and information displays, and solar
cells to collect power. These components are printed or imbedded
in the polymer using modern technologies for printing and lamination.
SmartWrap very much comes out of the laboratory, out of the
collective intelligence of many students, ourselves, outside
collaborators, and invited guests over a period of those laboratories,
From August 15 through October 10, a 16-foot-square and 24-foot-high
SmartWrap pavilion was exhibited in New York at the Cooper-Hewitt,
National Design Museums outdoor terrace and garden as the first
in its Solos exhibition series. (It withstood Hurricane Isabel,
which made its way up the East Coast in September.) And from
January 24-April 4, SmartWrap will be set up in the lobby of
the Institute of Contemporary Art, the firms first exhibition
on Penns campus.
A central theme in Refabricating Architecture has to
do with technological advances that have made possible a seeming
oxymoron, mass customization. For example, SmartWrap
can be printed in a variety of patterns and can even change
appearance according to climate conditions, and the manufacturer
of the Levine Hall curtain wall was able to provide a range
of windowpane patterns to give the units a varied appearance
without slowing down the production schedule. With such corporate
partners as DuPont, the firm has researched various types of
thread is not only in the studio but in the full-time research
that were doing here. Much of that research were trying to
apply, says Timberlake. Were building modular bathrooms and
modular vanities for clients. Were building a whole building
that way for Yale.
In that project, the universitys chief financial officer told
them that more money had to come out of a building project
without compromising quality. If you grew up the way we did,
youd just say, You cant do that. If you want more quality,
you have to spend more. But at Boeing and in the automotive
industry, nobody does that.
we said, Were glad you asked. Heres an idea for an off-site
fabrication that would save money and installation time, and
also was of exceptional quality, Kieran recalls. We were
able to do that because we had done the homework and the research.
We got DuPont to pay us to do a prototype. That makes all the
difference to success. Those that are prepared, succeedand
the research labs here and at Penn allow us to be prepared.
With opportunities to teach and also to build, Penn has offered
the partners a direct link back into the Penn community, and
an active link, a participating link, says Timberlake. Oftentimes,
its the undergraduates that have that connection back into
their alma materand Steve and I have that with our undergraduate
schools as wellbut I think we have a very direct connection
to Penn and the Penn community.
As at Penn, a lot of their work these days deals with collections
of buildings, says Timberlake. They are urban-design scale
projects that involve not any single element on campus, but
really remaking the campus.
In whatever realm, we look for the interesting project, he
adds. Often people come to us with difficult problems, and
they want the difficult problems solved. Those are the ones
that intrigue us.
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