C: Integrative components

C05 – Material systems for adaptive surface and structural elements

Project C05 focuses adaptive building-physical surface and structural elements (material systems) are examined, evaluated and their potential with regard to the application in adaptive buildings is shown.

In building design, building-physical properties like sound insulation, moisture protection and heat insulation have remained permanent and passive.  In terms of adaptive buildings, this procedure is changing: Building components and their properties remain adaptive throughout their life cycle.  In order to provide the required building physics properties in appropriate dimensions, the symbiotic material behaviour needs to be taken into account.

Therefore, project C05 focuses on adaptive, building-physical material systems for adaptive surface and tructural element, among other things for switchable thermal insulation to evaluate, develope and access.  

The first phase focuses in particular on the hygrothermal behavior of the adaptive building-physics material system. The potential is assessed in the first phase with regard to these criteria’s and examined for use in adaptive structures. Also considered are the topics of acoustics and sustainability as well as fire protection. Multifunctional building-physics studies then offer further research potential.


The following scientific questions arise in project C05:

  • Which options are available for switchable heat insulation in adaptive buildings?
  • Which materials should be used for switchable insulation systems?
  • How can the selected material systems be modelled, virtually evaluated and assessed by involving different conditions?
  • Can the developed material systems be described with existing characteristic values, or are there new characteristic values necessary?

Novel investigations of open-porous materials show the potentials of switchable heat insulation. The active control of the airflow or a pressure change within the skin construction can be particularly useful for lightweight or even lighter constructions, e. g. the airflow or pressure change within the construction. This approach allows to quickly change the heat conduction through the façade if it’s necessary.


Left: Layered construction of the flowable textile construction for solar energy use. Right: Open-pored, structured metal foams

In the project C05, suitable materials and open-pore insulation materials for the material systems are first developed and evaluated. Subsequently, a surface element is to be developed in which, in addition the thermal properties, the hygric, acoustic and when necessary visual functions are taken into account, with the hygrothermal properties in the foreground.

The aim is to gain comprehensive knowledge about the building-physical properties of newly developed adaptive surface elements. In a next step, the selected material systems are to be modeled, virtually evaluated and assessed for different outdoor and indoor conditions.

Membrane construction with four chambers. In the fixed state before measurement.

Afterwards, physical models and individual materials as well as their interactions will be examined whether these systems can be described reliably enough with current characteristic material values, or whether new values are needed.

Knowledge gained in project CO5 will be made available to other projects, especially to project DO2 for an integrated life cycle assessment.

Schematic diagram of active control of air flow in open-pored insulating materials; (a): static situation (insulation); (b): active control of flow in open-pored materials; (c): with switchable breathability of the outer skin; (d): negative pressure in the construction (increase of heat transfer); (e): positive pressure in the construction (reduction of heat transfer)

Principal Investigators

  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Philip Leistner, Institute for Acoustics and Building Physics 
  • Dr.-Ing. Sumee Park, Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP


This image shows Nadine  Harder

Nadine Harder

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

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