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Wyss Institute Experts to Share Cutting-Edge Research in Bio-inspired Building Materials at International Architecture Symposium

Novel Materials Act Like Living Systems: Offer New Pathways in Sustainable Architecture

BOSTON — Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and award-winning U.S. designer and Wyss Institute Visiting Scholar, Chuck Hoberman, will be keynote speakers at "Adaptive Architecture," a three-day symposium on the future of architecture, which is being held at the Building Centre in London, England.

Hoberman is currently working with the Wyss Institute to create a new generation of materials that adapt to environmental changes in the same way that living organisms do. Adaptability in architecture is currently achieved using mechanical structures and electrical motors that respond to external factors, such as sunlight, wind, temperature, and precipitation. In contrast, living cells and organisms respond to such external factors effortlessly by making adjustments at the nano- and micro-scales, which then lead to macro-scale changes in the properties of architectural structures.

"We’re very excited to have the chance to share our insights into these new biologically inspired materials at such a unique venue and with so many leaders in the international community of architects, builders, designers, and engineers," says Ingber. "As the consummate model of sustainability, Nature has a lot to teach us about dealing with the real-world challenges we face today."

At the symposium, Wyss Institute researchers Ben Hatton, Ph.D., and Ian Wheeldon, Ph.D., also will describe their new bioinspired building materials that could dynamically optimize energy efficiency, thermal gain, and other properties critical for sustainability. In one new material, the patterned surface of a lotus leaf served as inspiration for novel anti-ice surfaces. In another, capillary blood flow was the blueprint for new micro-channeled windows that contain fluid networks for thermal management and optical control.

Co-sponsored by the Wyss Institute, "Adaptive Architecture" takes place March 3 – 5. The event, which be attended by professional architects, designers, builders and experts in construction materials as well as researchers and structural engineers, will feature presentations on new types of reconfigurable architecture and show how adaptive strategies can extend a building’s life cycle, enhance energy efficiency, and optimize resource utilization.

The conference will also mark the launch of "Living Form: the Transformable World of Chuck Hoberman," which runs from March 4 through April 30, 2011. The exhibit will feature displays of dynamic sculptures, prototypes, and inventions, such as Hoberman’s novel glass technology, which had its inaugural installation at the Wyss Institute in Boston.

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