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Why Adaptive Materials that Can Heal May Yield New Forms of Living Assemblies (Video)

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image: seier+seier | Flickr
Now, in the Journal of Applied Physics, researchers at Arizona State University have created a material that may be able to not only sense damage in structural materials, such as cracking in a fiber-reinforced composite, but to even heal it. The aim of developing “autonomous adaptive structures” is to mimic the ability of biological systems such as bone to sense the presence of damage, halt its progression, and regenerate itself. — Science Daily (reprinted with adaptations from American Institute of Physics materials.

After reading the above quote, you may start to more truly understand what smart materials, and more specifically adaptive materials, are becoming capable of doing. Not only would such innovations help the building industry with the maintenance of buildings, and therefore also their safety, but they would also carve a path toward further developments leading to more sophisticated adaptive environments.

To see a quick example of how an adaptive material might work in terms of shape memory behavior, take a look at the following video of a polymer that regains its original shape once exposed over a certain temperature of its heat threshold —

While the above video may look simple enough, I invite you to consider what might develop in the future as a result of such adaptive materials as they evolve into our future environments.

Suppose for a moment that wall systems could expand and contract, pulling from different shape memories, and reacting to different stimuli that trigger their adaptation responses. Imagine that many of the functions within a building that are now static and locked in place, in the future could become dynamic — moving to wherever they are needed, seamlessly and easily because of their “self-healing” and “morphing” nature.

When combining adaptive materials with other forward thinking ideas such as the inherent ability of smart materials to take on newfound properties such as greater strength, increased flexibility, self-cleaning and a great variety of other transient behaviors — adaptive materialswill most certainly be an interesting topic to keep an eye on.

But for now, I encourage you to watch this next video entitled the “Living Kitchen”. And as you watch, keep an open mind to transcend modern day limitations and begin to think more creatively about what architecture and its adaptive installations will be able to do to improve human lifestyle in the future.


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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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