Soft Skin is a research project that investigates possibilities of using air inflation in architecture, as an active response to constantly changing parameters in environment. The Skin is a new composite material made of thin layers of flexible silicone rubber and elastic fabric.
Material system consists of series of inflatable cells combined in groups, which could be inflated or deflated to change form and appearance. This tunable topography responds to real time data of wind and light. These two parameters determine behavior of the skin that responds with different air pressures inside the system. Soft Skin is designed to reduce wind vibrations and air drag and infiltrate the light.
With this, its application could include mounting on high-rise buildings which are exposed to high speed winds and by this allowing more open spaces on high levels. It could also be a skin for canopies in urban spaces to protect users from high speed wind and sun light.
In Soft Skin, increase in pressure goes from softening the edges by volume expansion to small bumps on the surface resulting in skin roughness. Volume expansion is related to creating damping effect.
Another parameter Soft Skin acts upon, is filtering light through its layers. When inflated the wall thickness is becoming less thus allowing more light to go through it. When deflated inner and outer layers are closer, so the more considerable is the amount of bending of sun ray, thus less light is passing through.
Except from air pressure, materials used to create this composite are determining its behavior. Silicon types varies in tensile strength and elongation at break, while fabric also varies in tensile strength and direction of stretchability as well as transparency. The result is a high-strength, inflatable skin that creates lightweight membrane that embrace a new material system, soft, translucent and responsive.
Project Title: Soft Skin
IaaC – Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
Master in Advanced Architecture 2014/15
Students: Lubna Alayeli, Nina Jotanovic, Ceren Temel, Farah Alayeli
Senior Faculty: Areti Markopoulou
Faculty Assistant: Alexandre Dubor
Computational Support: Carlos Bausa Martinez