Using existing materials in new ways is part of the foundation of design — from concrete handbags to newspaperwood — designers are always experimenting with materials.

And that’s what architect Doris Kim Sung, assistant professor of architecture at the USC School of Architecture, is currently doing with her “Bloom” 20-foot tall undulating installation in Silver Lake, Los Angeles made from 14,000 tiny sheets of metal that opens and closes with the sun. Check it out:

Sung discovered a new use for material commonly used in thermostat coils that responds to temperature changes. In the exploration of this materials, she asks, “why do we have to adapt to buildings – why can’t buildings adapt to us?” She wonders why materials can’t be as flexible and responsive as clothing…

The metal alloy called “thermobimetal” is made of two sheets of metal laminated together. Each metal expands at a different rate when heated, curling as the temperature rises and flattening when cooled.

Sung believes that it could be used to create canopies that close when the sun is above or vents that open when the air becomes too stuffy. She is now working on ways to integrate thermobimetal with standard building components, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she discovers.