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The Air Flow(er)

Updated: May 27, 2018

Inspired by yellow crocus flower, the Air Flow(er) is an energy independent thermally active ventilation device which behaves like a flower, whose “petals” open wide when exposed to warmer temperatures designed by LIFT Architects.

Building on principles found in nature, the Air Flow(er) aims to regulate airflow and interior temperatures—without electricity. Conceptually the Air Flow(er) is based on the thermonastic response of the yellow crocus.  Thermonasty describes the kinetic reaction of plant structure in response to changes in temperature. The yellow crocus flower, reacts to a temperature shift from cold to warm.

Studies have shown that the physiologic properties of the petal are responsible for its kinetic response to temperature.  The petal comprises two layers of cells, one inside and one outside.  In cold temperatures, the outer layer of cells expands at a faster rate than the inner layer, and the petals move inward causing the flower to close.  In a warmer environment, cell growth of the inner layer outpaces the outer layer and the flower blooms.  This intrinsic kinetic response to temperature, immediate and without any higher level processing system proved to be the impetus for a comprehensive investigation into other smart materials that could perform in a similar way.

The active component in the Air Flow(er) device is a custom manufactured Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) wire, which is commonly regarded as a smart material because of its unique response to changes in temperature. When an SMA is in its lower temperature form (martensite phase), it can be easily deformed into a new shape. This can be caused by bending, stretching, twisting, flexing, or otherwise distorting the wire from its original shape.  However, when the alloy is heated through its warmer transformation temperatures (austenite phase), it recovers its original shape with great force. This process is known as Shape Memory. 

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