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Biological Skin Proposed for Buildings


By Harold Hower

It’s not a Grade B horror movie, obviously, but it does have its creepy side, nevertheless. I’m referring to a headline in Popular Science: “Architects and Cell Biologists Team Up to Make Biological Skins for Buildings to Wear.”

In the article it is explained that a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are using a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to study human cells as the model for next-generation “skin” for buildings.

The group includes engineers, design architects, and cell biologists. Their goal is to create an exterior surface (skin) that automatically responds to its environment, for instance, heat, humidity, and light, in a way that is similar to how the human body reacts to these stimuli.

By studying human cells, skin cells as well as others, scientists hope to understand how the body operates to respond to its environment and then transfer this knowledge to materials science and technology to create building “skins.”

The evolving technology of smart coatings may constitute "skin in the game," so to speak. It is certainly intriguing to speculate about this stuff—for instance, roof coatings that can switch from reflecting to absorbing the sunlight.


Harold Hower

Harold Hower, CEO and founder of Technology Publishing Company, likes to think about ways of improving conditions in the architectural coatings industry.



Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Coatings technology; Smart coatings

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