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UB architect’s elastic facade concepts snap up awards

“Snapping Façade” took first place at the Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 AN Best of Design Awards in the research category.

“Snapping Façade” took first place at the Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 AN Best of Design Awards in the research category.


Published February 27, 2018

What does a popular ‘80s toy have to do with energy conservation in high-rises and dynamic buildings? A lot, according to UB architecture professor Jin Young Song.

Two award-winning design concepts by Jin Young Song, assistant professor of architecture, explore sustainable building envelope strategies using elastic instability — the same technology used in snap bracelets — to create dynamic motion in the facade. 

“Snapping Façade” took first place at the Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 AN Best of Design Awards in the research category, setting itself apart as a beautiful, minimalistic solution to a widespread and growing problem in cities worldwide.

Song’s “Snapping Light Surface,” designed in collaboration with Jongmin Shim, UB assistant professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, tied for third place in the LG OLED Design Award competition in the space design category, which judges designs based on their incorporation of the concepts of “life,” the LG design philosophy of “Human Centric Care and Empathy,” and flexibility and creativity. “Snapping Light Surface” utilizes similar snapping technology to explore the integration of flexible OLEDs — organic light-emitting diodes — and snapping motions as an alternative to building envelope applications.  

"Snapping Light Surface." Rendering courtesy of Jin Young Song

"Snapping Light Surface." Rendering courtesy of Jin Young Song

Both Snapping Façade and Snapping Light Surface seek to bridge the gap between traditional, uninspiring building envelopes — which modern buildings have outgrown — and energy-hungry, dynamic shading designs.

By using weakening-induced bands tied within the elastic threshold, Snapping Façade has the ability to produce a “snap” deformation with the minimal stimulus. This ease of movement creates a playful experience for the user, as well as saves energy compared to other “dynamic” building envelopes that require energy in order to operate, adding to an already sky-high energy consumption for many buildings.

Snapping Light Surface contains an OLED attached to the inside surfaces of the two bands, with stretching fabric installed inside the module. The motion-associated light surface turns walls into dynamic spaces that respond to the human operator. Eventually, the potential of the snapping bands will be explored using materials such as patterned metals, plastics and wood veneers. The membrane between the bands needs to be tested through metal origami, fabric and other hybrid methods to find the optimal folding mechanism.

Snapping Façade was selected from more than 800 designs submitted to the AN Best of Design Awards. Snapping Light Surface competed in a field of more than 650 designs submitted to the LG OLED Design Award, which is sponsored by Luflex.

Song has had success in several other competitions; most recently, his “Connected Living” concept was displayed in the Seoul Museum of Art alongside other top finishers in the Self-Evolving City Competition organized by the International Union of Architects of Seoul.