Water-Reacting Architectural Surface

The water-reacting surface is an architectural exterior material. Installed outside the building, it brings bright colour to residents in dim rainy days, especially in cities usually rains (London, Nanjing, Wuxi, etc.).

On sunny days, the tiles of the surface are dry and lie flat. On rainy days, the tiles get wet and bend automatically, gently opening and showing the colour hidden beneath the surface to bring vitality to the space.

The Water Indicator is designed for home gardeners to detect the soil moist in the plant pot and inform the users about the right time to water the plants.

Inspired by the pinecone, the Water Indicator is made of the bilayer water-reacting material. It has two sides with two colours, red and blue. Place it directly in the soil and face the red side outward. When the soil is dry, the material will keep straight and show users the red colour, indicating that the plant needs water. When the soil is wet, the material will bend automatically and show the blue colour to users, indicating that the plant has enough water.

2015 (RCA final year project)​

water reaction

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The Water-Reacting shelter is made of laminated water-reacting tiles supported by a plywood structure. On sunny days, the water-reacting tiles are dry and keep open, so the users can enjoy the sunshine through the opened tiles. On rainy days, the tiles get wet and bend automatically. They will stack one by one and cover the whole area of the shelter to prevent the rain. In this way the shelter is controlled by the weather and responds to different conditions.


Material imitation

     For indoor gardener

Visitors in the PRC please click here.

     Artificial pine cone

Water indicator

After rain:

Water is an essential element for life. All species, fauna and flora, have evolved with water and have developed vital reactions to water in terms of survival. Nature always has a professional way to solve life’s problem. In order to release and protect its seeds, a pine cone has the amazing ability to open and close through its surface reaction to water.

This natural phenomenon led me to a material study into pinecone of bio-mimicry science and has inspired me to create a laminate water-reacting material. Utilizing inherent properties, this bio-mimetic material detects humidity and changes its shape automatically without mechanical structures or electrical elements. While water is indispensible in our daily life, it sometimes causes problems. In the context of different scenarios involving water (planting and architecture exterior), the water-reacting material has been applied to different products: a water indicator which detects the soil moist and informs users, the architectural surface which changes its colour in the rain and a shelter which automatically closes to prevent the rain. Using a mechanism analogous to the water reaction from the pine cone, these products utilize a natural way to face the water and solve problems, illustrating nature`s engineering with functionalism and aesthetics.