PhD Defense: Physiomimetic Façade Design by Susanne Gosztonyi

///PhD Defense: Physiomimetic Façade Design by Susanne Gosztonyi

The motivation for this dissertation has evolved from the observation about the development of adaptive façades for energy-efficient buildings and the simultaneously growing desire to find solutions that reduce the complexity and imbalance between design and technology. Adaptive façades have become increasingly attractive in recent years, as the dynamic control of the energy flow appears to lower energy consumption and keep a consistently high level of indoor comfort. Such façades currently consist of many individual technical parts, which again consist of technical subsystems that need to interact with each other. In order to interconnect these subsystems, additional control technology is applied, which adds another level of complexity in design, realization and operation. As a result, these systems are highly susceptible to failure and costly to maintain, in addition to the extra planning effort. Enabling adaptive functionality through design itself seems to play little role.

Expectations for biomimetics were high: They led to the assumption that applying biological principles to technical systems would solve existing problems. And yet biomimetic solutions are hardly to be found as market-ready products for use in energy-efficient buildings. One possible reason for this could be the difficulty of transferring the adaptive principles of biological role models to the requirements in the building sector, especially with regard to a functional preservation of thermo-physical effects. Biomimetic concepts in architecture and façade design often remain on a visually imitative level that often neglects the principles of functionality. The functional effectiveness of the biological solution gets lost when focusing on the obvious. Hence, the discrepancy between design and functionality became apparent once again and was the reason for me to explore function-oriented transfer methods for the particular field of façade design and engineering.

The intention of this dissertation is to contribute to the discussion and possible reduction of the separation between design and functionality. The goal is to seek ways that enable the transfer of biological principles for thermally adaptive processes based on the empowerment of design rules – without sacrificing the functionality. The design maxim “form follows function” propagated by Louis Sullivan in the late 1890s is once again gaining proverbial significance and encourages to dive under the obvious and to reveal applicable design approaches for the use of functional principles in nature.

Physiomimetic Façade Design – Systematics for a function-oriented transfer of biological principles to thermally-adaptive façade design concepts

Defense date 30.05.2022

Link to the thesis: Promotie Susanne Gosztonyi: Physiomimetic Facade Design (

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