BioSkin: a green building siding inspired by tree bark. BioSkin is a type of siding for buildings consisting of a system that creates shaded areas on a building's surface just like tree bark does on its own exterior. By acting like heatsinks the siding blocks excess heat from collecting on the outside of a building. The bark creates a rough surface that allows for many shaded areas to occur. This enables the convection of air to start to move heat away from the tree. BioSkin siding mimics this function and others to create convections. The benefit of BioSkin is that when the siding is used on outside walls it moderates the interior temperature of the building therefore using less energy to maintain a steady temperature.
Biomimicry is a balance of learning and creating. At first a source of inspiration for solving a human issue is identified. Then the natural source is translated into what can be used to solve the issue it's addressing, followed by close observation of how the natural source works. Finally the idea is abstracted so that the man made version can be successful. BioSkin uses three bark as inspiration and mimics its characteristics for creating convection and saving energy. The idea of creating a siding for buildings that acts like tree bark came form looking at how nature solves problems and using the biomimicry design process to find new ways to moderate building temperatures.
Testing different materials was a key step during this research phase. I wanted to test at least 3 different material types. I chose to test hdpe, a plastic+wood composite, and wood. I tested hdpe because of its resistance to chemicals, flexibility, and ability to be recycled. A plastic composite was tested because of its durability and its wood+plasitic attributes. Wood was also tested to see how well a natural cellulose based material would perform.
My goal was to create a test environment and test at least 3 prototypes. I succeeded in that goal but there were some big challenges.
The main lesson/challenge I had doing the project was figuring out what was the best part to focus on and test to get results. Once I did that I was able to use the testing time I had more efficiently. In the beginning of the project I was very worried about many different aspects of it. How is it going to mount to a surface? How will it be manufactured? etc. Sourcing materials for the prototypes and starting the data collection at the right time to get the best results was also difficult. I realized though that it was more important in this stage to focus on testing materials and the function of the prototypes. Once I decided to focus on prototype research I was able to make progress and not spend too much time trying to figure out different parts of the project without moving forward at all.
Moving forward from here I've decided my next steps are to focus on testing one material and really connecting it well to a prototype. I'd like to test a prototype/material combination on a much larger surface to see more of the affects it has on its environment. Once I accomplish this I would then like to move on to investigating how the siding could be manufactured and attached to a building. Also I want to continue to meet new possible partners/advisers to keep gathering input.