Rhode Island School of Design


The designed double skin participates in passive heating and cooling where it’s colors change in response to climate. Dark surfaces absorb more solar gains that light surfaces, which is the main factor taken into account for the project.


The design for the thermochromic responsive skin begins with a digital radiation study of the building within its context which result in particular chromatic patterns on the surface of the rendered building. The pattern was simplified and translated into a 2Dimensional drawing of the surfaces of the building, where the color gradation of the heat renderings determines the curves for the skin’s pattern.


Following the radiation studies, the building was analyzed within its context so as to comprehend the sun paths during the December and June solstices. The max. and min. angles of the sun determined the 3Dimensional folding of the façade: the geometric pattern folds forwards or backwards, addressing sun path incidence and heat mapping over the surface of each wall. The combination of both results in a façade that also behaves as an exo-structure for the building.


The structural façade operates along with an interior facade to generate double-skin ventilation system. The space between both skins generates a controlled thermal buffer that can be manipulated so as to aid in passive heating and cooling accordingly to the climatic changes.


The thermocromic material exists on the edge of the 3Dimensional geometric pattern. The product is the result of three layers: a UV coating, black thermocromic pigment and a white surface. When the material is heated (due to the sun), the black pigment turns clear and reveals the white surface beneath it. This will allow the façade to reflect the solar heat during the hotter seasons. When the weather is cold, the pigment remains black which engages the façade to provide solar gains.

Surface temperatures vary depending on their orientation and surrounding context, which will result in different shades of gray throughout the façade.