A project by:  Sabin Design Lab, Cornell Architecture

Principal Investigator: Jenny E. Sabin
Design Research Team: Martin Miller (Senior Personnel & Design Lead), Daniel Cellucci & Andrew Moorman (Mechatronics Lead), Giffen Ott (Production Lead), Max Vanatta, David Rosenwasser, Jessica Jiang, Andrew Lucia (Senior Personnel)

Date/Time of exhibition or event: Sep 15, 2014 - Dec 22, 2014

Installation Location: East Sibley III, West End

Hours of accessibility: 9 AM - 5 PM

As part of two NSF funded projects in the Sabin Design Lab at Cornell University, eSkin and KATS (Cutting and Pasting - Kirigami in Architecture, Technology, and Science), ColorFolds is one product of ongoing trans-disciplinary research spanning across the fields of cell biology, materials science, physics, electrical and systems engineering, and architecture. Ultimately the goal of the eSkin project is to explore materiality from nano to macroscales based upon understanding of nonlinear, dynamic human cell behaviors on geometrically defined substrates. Through the eSkin project, insights as to how cells can modify their immediate extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment with minimal energy and maximal effect are being investigated and applied to the biomimetic design and engineering of highly aesthetic, passive materials, and sensors and imagers that will be integrated into responsive building skins at the architectural scale. ColorFolds incorporates two parameters that the team is investigating: optical color and transparency change at the human scale based upon principles of structural color at a nano to micro scale.

In addition to these material proprieties, ColorFolds features a lightweight, tessellated array of interactive components that fold and unfold in the presence or absence of people. From architecture to chemistry, from chalkboards to micrographs, and from maps to trompe-l’oeil, we strive to communicate 3D geometry, structures, and features using 2D representations. They have allowed us not only to communicate complex information, but also to create real objects, from the act of folding a paper airplane to the construction and digital fabrication of entire buildings. ColorFolds follows the concept of "Interact Locally, Fold Globally," necessary for deployable and scalable architectures. Using mathematical modeling, architectural elements, design computation, and controlled elastic response, ColorFolds showcases new techniques, algorithms, and processes for the assembly of open, deployable structural elements and architectural surface assemblies. Each face of the tessellated and interactive components features a novel colorful film invented by 3M called Dichroic Film.  Not only does this film align with our investigations into structural color, but it also allows for room-scale investigations of these nano to micro material effects and features. An array of sensors detects the presence or absence of people below, which in turn actuates a network of Flexinol®  by Dynalloy, Inc. spring systems that open or close the folded components.

Comprised of a field of low cost sensors and passively responsive materials, ColorFolds is conceived to be generic and homogenously structured upon installation (i.e. laden with the full potential) but readily adaptable to local heterogeneous spatiotemporal conditions, thereby reducing the overall functioning demands upon it. This manner of operation not only maximizes immediate performative efficiency, but also allows for ongoing contextual adaptation. In this regard ColorFolds is a “learning” and adaptive skin assembly, a prototype for future applications in the context of adaptive architecture.