Adaptive Skin

How to design a system which changes its structure, behavior, or resources according to demand?


In order to study different skin conditions across the spectrum,for the Spring 2016 studio, the student found the amphibious frog skin to be the most unique in its characteristics, life cycle, and adaptability. It’s microscopic qualities such as its systematic randomization of density in the hexagonal pattern to further develop the idea of an adaptable building in the relationship to the urban, building, and human scale.


Adaptive Skin

Adaptive Skin

The site needed to be involved as a whole in order for the adaptability to progress and flourish, thus the locality of the massings were crucial.

The housing units were organized in a three-part system based on the triangularity of the site where the center of each side of the triangle connected together, locating three separate buildings and allowing for another triangular space to evolve into an outdoor community space fit for residence and cafe guests.

Sustainability features include: fixed solar panels on the roof and active PV Panels on the southernmost exposure facade that adjust with the moving sun. The other panels are passive use, collapsible with pivots, adjusted to the occupant’s needs form their hexagonal sliding windows. Pervious pavers surround the site outlying an urban water garden near the transit to improve storm water management.

The tactics the student took included playing and spreading light. This was done with the use of different material properties of glass of the inner skin and the use of perforated steel and 3D-Printed additive manufacturing technologies for the outer skin, allowing for the spread of light in the hexagonal pattern from the exterior to the interior and form the building around the city. Hiding yet exposing the language of the skin through different layers of systematized spatial connections.

Related Projects and Research:


Knoxville Transit Stop

Student Contributors:

Summer Abston