Adaptive textile shading system for facades with integrated shape memory alloy (SMA)

The research project ADAPTEX investigates the potential of using the smart material Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) for an adaptive sun shading textile for architecture. By incorporating SMA as an actuator into a textile structure, the permeability of the surface adapts in response to temperature, adjusting parameters like light transmission and reflection. In high solar radiation, the system adapts and blocks incoming sunlight to regulate solar heat gain. In low solar radiation the surface remains open to provide natural light and view.

ADAPTEX i-Mesh consists of two identical layers of a multiaxial non-woven textile with a perforated pattern. The two layers are aligned in front of each other allowing daylight to permeate. When activated, one of the layers slides upwards. As the screens are no longer aligned, the permeability of the overall surface decreases. When the temperature drops, the self-weight of the textile ensures that it moves back to its original position. Alternatively, the system can also be triggered by a short electrical impulse.

SMAs are manufactured metals that can act as both sensors and actuators. Due to molecular phase changes, they can take on two different states. At a pre-defined temperature they will return to their original shape. In the form of thin wires, SMAs are very strong in relation to their weight and diameter. They require less space and resources compared to motorized actuators. SMAs are silent, corrosion-free and durable, with up to more than 30,000 movement cycles. Until now, the use of SMA for architectural applications has been very limited.

ADAPTEX i-Mesh is fabricated from durable, high-performance textile which has been tested and proven suitable for facade applications. The layer facing the exterior is made from glass fiber to reflect incoming sunlight and regulate the energetic impact. The layer facing the interior is made from a darker basalt fiber, as it enhances the visibility from inside to outside, due to higher contrast. The pattern of the multiaxial grid that defines the openness factor can be parametrically adapted to the specific requirements of different buildings,  locations and design intents. The parametric tool enables adjustment to specific application requirements such as illuminance level, glare protection, shading effect, façade size and module position.

ADAPTEX was developed by an interdisciplinary project team from architecture, textile design, façade engineering and material research. The system has been tested at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, showing g-value, transmittance and reflectance properties suitable for a high performance sun shading. It is currently being tested as a full scale façade module outdoors at the German University of Technology in Muscat, Oman.

ADAPTEX provides an adaptive and sustainable design solution. It efficiently prevents the overheating of interior spaces and drastically reduces energy consumption in manufacture, installment and operation, compared to similar systems using motors. Since the adaptive facade is activated automatically by ambient temperature, no electricity is required in its operation.

ADAPTEX was honored by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat - CTBUH at conference in Chicago as the 2022 Award of Excellence Winner in the Innovation category.

Project Team

weissensee school of art and design berlin, Berlin DE

Prof. Christiane Sauer, Maxie Schneider, Ebba Fransén Waldhör

Priedemann Facade Experts, Großbeeren / Berlin DE

Paul-Rouven Denz, Puttakhun Vongsingha, Natchai Suwannapruk, Jens Böke

Project Funding

Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF

Innovationsnetzwerk smart³

Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation

The research projects ADAPTEX and ADAPTEX KLIMA+ (2017-2022) were a collaboration between: Weißensee School of Art and Design, Priedemann Facade-Lab GmbH, Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, Carl Stahl ARC GmbH, Verseidag-Indutex GmbH, ITP GmbH, SGS Ingenieurdienstleistungen im Bauwesen GmbH and i-Mesh.

One-of-a-kind texture designed for Adaptex project in Basalt and Fiberglass

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