The current step, more ambitious than the last, is to stitch the many aspects of thermobimetal together into a more comprehensive prototype. The direct application to architecture is unknown at this time, but the implications for high-performance buildings are tremendous. It is part of what is called a “bottoms-up” approach, championed by figures like Paul MacCready, who designed the first human-powered flight machine called the Gossamer Condor. When critics asked why he bothered to invent something so impractical, the aeronautical engineer insisted that inventing anything—even if impractical—spawned something critically important: a new way of thinking about the world. Designing and building a expandable surface that opens and closes in the shape of a sphere as temperatures change is not an easy task. It will take a year of designing and redesigning. But when it is done, the product will mesh art with technology, architecture with science, aesthetics with engineering, raising new questions and spawning new ideas.
Team: Doris Sung (principal), Evan Shieh, Wenjia Xu.