When Biology Inspires Architecture: An Interview with Doris Kim Sung

Much of dO|Su Studio Architecture’s work is with Thermal-Bimetals, a laminated sheet metal material that can expand and contract at different temperatures. Image © Brandon Shigeta

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural in innovative ways. Enjoy!

Before attending Columbia University for her Masters in Architecture, Los Angeles-based architect Doris Kim Sung took a fairly non-traditional approach to becoming an architect: she was a biologist. Naturally then, Sung’s architectural work tends to take inspiration from the biological world, particularly in the way she experiments and innovates with materials. Much of her work involves thermal bimetals, a material that expands and contracts with temperature swings; it can even act as a sun shade and ventilation system, without the need for electricity.

So where does a biologist-turned-architect draw inspiration from? We interviewed Ms. Sung to find out for ourselves — the responses, like her work at dO|Su Architecture, are simply fascinating.

TEDx: Metal that breathes / Doris Kim Sung

Biology student turn architect, Doris Kim Sung has dedicated her studies to the infinite possibilities of thermobimetals, smart that respond dynamically to temperature change. As tested with ’s recent installation “Bloom”, whose surface is completely fabricated with thermobimetal, these smart materials are capable of relieving our dependence on energy-inefficient mechanical systems with their self-shading and self-ventilating properties.

Imagine a building skin capable of maintaining thermal comfort in an environmentally responsible and cost effective way by responsively mimicking the characteristics of human skin.