Jin Young Song's elastic facade concepts snap up awards

“Snapping Façade” took first place at the Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 AN Best of Design Awards in the research category.

by Brenna Zanghi

Published January 19, 2018

What does a popular ‘80s toy have to do with energy conservation in high-rises and dynamic buildings? A lot, according to UB architecture professor Jin Young Song.

Two award-winning design concepts by assistant professor of architecture Jin Young Song explore sustainable building envelope strategies using elastic instability—the same technology used in Snap Bracelets - to create dynamic motion in the facade. 

“Snapping Façade” took first place at the Architect’s Newspaper’s 2017 AN Best of Design Awards in the research category, setting itself apart as a beautiful, minimalistic solution to a widespread and growing problem in cities worldwide.

Song's “Snapping Light Surface," designed in collaboration with Jongmin Shim, UB professor of structural engineering, tied for third place in the LG OLED Light Design Award in the space design category—which judges designs based on their incorporation of “life,” the LG “Human-Centric Care and Empathy” philosophy, flexibility, and creativity. “Snapping Light Surface” utilizes similar snapping technology to explore the integration of flexible OLEDs and snapping motions as an alternative to building envelope applications. 

"Snapping Light Surface." Rendering courtesy of Jin Young Song

Both Snapping Façade and Snapping Light Surface seek to bridge the gap between traditional, uninspiring building envelops—which modern buildings have outgrown—and energy-hungry dynamic shading designs.

By using weakening-induced bands tied within the elastic threshold, Snapping Façade has the ability to produce a “snap” deformation with the minimal stimulus. This ease of movement creates a playful experience for the user, as well as saves energy compared to other “dynamic” building envelopes which require energy in order to operate, adding to an already sky-high energy consumption for many buildings.

Snapping Light Surface contains an OLED attached to the inside surfaces of the two bands, and stretching fabric is installed inside the module. The motion associated light surface turns walls into dynamic spaces that respond to the human operator. Eventually, the potential of the snapping bands will be explored using materials such as patterned metals, plastics, and wood veneers. The membrane between the bands needs to be tested through metal origami, fabric, and other hybrid methods to find the optimal folding mechanism.

Snapping Façade was selected from more than 800 designs submitted to the AN Best of Design Awards. Snapping Light Surface competed in a field of more than 650 designs submitted to the LG OLED Light Design Award, which is sponsored by Luflex.

Jin Young Song has seen previous success in several different competitions; most recently his “Connected Living” concept was displayed in the Seoul Museum of Art alongside other top finishers in the Self-Evolving City Competition, organized by the International Union of Architects of Seoul.