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4D-printed parametric façade in architecture: prototyping a self-shaping skin using programmable two-way shape memory composite (TWSMC)

Hwang Yi (Architecture, Ajou University, Suwon, Republic of Korea)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 13 September 2021

Issue publication date: 7 December 2022




This study aims to present an architectural application of 4D-printed climate-adaptive kinetic architecture and parametric façade design.


This work investigates experimental prototyping of a reversibly self-shaping façade, by integrating the parametric design approach, smart material and 4D-printing techniques. Thermo-responsive building skin modules of two-way shape memory composite (TWSMC) was designed and fabricated, combining the shape memory alloy fibers (SMFs) and 3D-printed shape memory polymer matrices (SMPMs). For geometry design, deformation of the TWSMC was simulated with a dimension-reduced mathematical model, and an optimal arrangement of three different types of TWSMC modules were designed and fabricated into a physical scale model.


Model-based experiments show robust workability and formal reversibility of the developed façade. Potential utility of this module for adaptive building design and construction is discussed based on the results. Findings help better understand the shape memory phenomena and presented design-inclusive technology will benefit architectural communities of smart climate-adaptive building.


Two-way reversibility of 4D-printed composites is a topic of active research in material science but has not been clearly addressed in the practical context of architectural design, due to technical barriers. This research is the first architectural presentation of the whole design procedure, simulation and fabrication of the 4D-printed and parametrically movable façade.



The author would like to give special thanks to all the contributors, especially Ms. Yuri Kim and the Makerspace consulting and support team in Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (NRF-2021R1C1C1003403) and by the Ajou University Research Grant (S-2021-G-0001-00016).


Yi, H. (2022), "4D-printed parametric façade in architecture: prototyping a self-shaping skin using programmable two-way shape memory composite (TWSMC)", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 29 No. 10, pp. 4132-4152.



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