School of Architecture College of Design

Living Surfaces: Building Envelopes as Biological Systems


Living Surfaces: Day 1


The first day of the “Shrivel and Shrink” catalyst was primarily devoted to experimenting with the “shrinky Dink” material from which we would eventually be creating a large scale installation.


Many of us expected the final design would consist mainly of the polystyrene shrinkable plastic. However, finding that the material shrinks to nearly 40% of its original size, we soon realized that another material would need to come into play and that the Shrinky Dink would be more of an actuator or method of manipulation.


By the end of the day, we had divided into three groups that would pursue the use of string, paper origami, and rubber-bands as potential partnering materials.


Living Surfaces: Day 2

Day 2 of our exploration with Shrinky Dinks, the three groups worked independently from one another. The string group explored hanging topographical change with varied amounts of Shrinky Dink woven together with string, shortening the length of the string as the plastic is heated. The rubber band group toyed with Tensegrity structures and the use of the Shrinky Dink as an actuator to pull the tensile pieces into place. The origami grouped further explored how the Shrinky Dink, as it’s heated, pulls in on itself and thus could be used to “close” an origami shape. This exploration was voted the most promising as the flat shapes could become three-dimensional and could aggregate to a greater three-dimensional shape.







School of Architecture
145 Rapson Hall
89 Church Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fax: 612-624-5743


Contact Information

College of Design

Saint Paul Offices

32 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-1922

[directions and maps]

Minneapolis Offices

101 Rapson Hall, 89 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-626-9068 | F: 612-625-7525

[directions and maps]

© Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement Current as of