Although many design practitioners bring thermodynamic concerns into the design domain, thermodynamics have not yet been fully integrated into design practice. ’Skin Patterning’ is a reﬂection o n the detailed and in-depth understanding of interactions between surfaces and their non-visible atmosphere, as two systems that are exchanging energies and consequently forming various microclimates. Microclimates are loclised constituents of a larger climate or macroclimate that are generated through a complex synergy of invisible meteorological elements: airﬂow, t emperature, and humidity. These environmental factors are constantly changing as the result of energy exchanges through various mechanisms of radiation, convection, conduction, and thermodynamic phase transition. The resulting microclimates can be warmer, cooler or damper in comparison to the surrounding global climate. We have non-visual experiences of these thermal transients in our daily life. The microclimate around a greenery wall is an intimate example of a cooler and damper microclimate that is forming as the result of energy exchanges between plants and their environments. The role of such localised climates is notable in harsh climates such as hot and arid zones to mitigate heat and bring ease and comfort for inhabitants, which requires the knowledge of thermodynamics and energy ﬂow. This research investigates a novel design strategy to design patterned skins through thermodynamic studies. This research contributes to the body of knowledge through developing a novel but practical architectural framework by instituting well-planned and original strategies in creating an active feedback loop between design and thermal related analysis. Since this research is not concerned with the theoretical studies of thermodynamics but with its practical integration into design, to generate design layouts for surface articulation it was necessary to go beyond the traditional research methods to an approach in which design becomes the central activity. Hence, this research has developed three main practical thermal investigations and a series of reﬂective designs. Through three main investigations, entitled Pilot Thermal studies, Airﬂow and Porosity and Airﬂow and Solidity, thermal transition between surfaces and their surroundings has been visualised and the results and reﬂections have been documented. This research through design proposes a series of interactive platforms to bring thermodynamic and microturbulence studies into the design process of boundaries through cross-simulations and diversifying visualisation techniques and tools. Through the design of different thermal exploratory platforms I demonstrate how far designers can be supported in an active way through interactive empirical studies, which would gradually be advanced by using low cost technology of Arduino sensors, a Robot hand for simulating dynamic movement of heat source, thermography for radiation studies, an optical ﬂow visualisation technique for convection studies, and also by using Augmented Reality for improving the physical interaction with the visualised environment to collect and record data in different locations. Rather than restricting the thermodynamic studies to the linear thermal performance analysis by the aid of off-the-shelf digital performance analysis tools, this research took the advantage of an approach between physical and digital. Accordingly this research presents a complementary Analog-Digital approach through which several Thermal Sensing Platforms (TSPs) have been developed to support live data visualisation of interrelated thermal that can be underestimated through digital performance analysis. The duality between empirical and digital studies, between design of small scale components and large scale compositions, and between digital manufacturing and hand making has become the combinatory components of this dynamic exploration. Further critical reﬂections on the outcomes from these investigations turned into the design of a series of innovative 3D ceramic components for facades, entitled 3D ceramic tiles with innovative features that enable them to act as patterned skins. These design outcomes exempliﬁed how thermodynamic studies through design-oriented analysis platform and cross-simulations can be implemented into design of building products for facade and lead to speculation and generation of innovative design solutions. Ultimately, this research opens up new possibilities and horizons for the innovative design of patterned skins by including microturbulence and thermodynamics in the design process.
Examiners: Prof Sambit Datta, Dr Paul Osmond Supervisors: Dr Malte Wagenfeld, Prof Jane Burry