What if building materials were more like skin? Flexible, porous, reactive?

That’s the idea behind Doris Kim Sung’s buildings. Her architectural designs are built from thermo-bimetals, smart materials that respond dynamically to temperature and sunlight, curling and shifting to control the amount of sunlight allowed into the building and the amount of hot air left in or sent out.

Doris was a biology major before she took up architecture, and she found inspiration from an unexpected creature: a grasshopper.

Grasshoppers have a different kind of breathing system,” Doris says in her talk at TEDxUSC, “They breathe through holes in their sides called spiracles, and they bring the air through and it moves through their system to cool them down.

I’m trying to look at how we can consider that in architecture too, how we can bring air through holes in the sides of a building … When it’s cold, the thermo-bimetal is flat so it will constrict air from passing through the blocks, and [when it’s warm], the thermo-bimetal curls and allows that air to pass through…

It’s a completely different thing [than normal buildings], because you can imagine that air could potentially be coming through the walls instead of opening windows.

You can see “Bloom,” an example of Doris’s work above. The installation is 20 feet tall and made with 14,000 completely unique pieces of thermo-bimetal, whose curling and shifting create a building that “breathes,” regulating its own temperature.

Learn more about Doris’s work by watching her talk here, and hear about new projects in this interview with The Creators Project.

(Photos — Top, Middle: Brandon Shigeta; Bottom: core77, Doris Kim Sung)

One skin-house please.