Historical Evolution of Responsive Facades

Factors Affecting the Design and Development



Responsive facade system is considered a major component of high-performance building envelope that is capable of responding to environmental stimuli and aims to improve occupants’ comforts and lower energy consumption. While building design-related articles have frequently addressed the technical and design aspects of responsive facades, very limited historical studies have been conducted to shed light on the evolution of such systems. The paper is the result of a comprehensive study placing emphasis on exploring historical factors that initiated and affected the development of responsive facades. The objective is to examine and classify the factors explored in a chronological manner and present a graphical timeline to address the evolution of design and development. A comprehensive literature review has been conducted on evolution of design and development of responsive facades in historical contexts to explore the influential factors. It turns out that the influential factors can be classified into a set of sociocultural, technological, political/economic, and environmental factors originating from revolutionary changes in art, technology and building construction since late 19th century. The factors are presented in chronological manner. A graphical timeline that explains the evolution of design and development is also presented. The historical timeline developed is intended to serve as a helpful resource for researchers and educators in their research and teaching activities. The timeline formulated can be utilized to track the pattern of current developments and predict what might be expected in the future. While the focus of the paper is on individual architecture scale, the trend of the recent developments presented in the timeline suggests that responsive facades will be possibly implemented for urban-scaled development of smart neighborhoods or cities in the future.


Photo of Negar Heidari Matin, Ph.D. Candidate, LEED GA

Negar Heidari Matin, Ph.D. Candidate, LEED GA

Eastern Michigan University


Photo of Ali Eydgahi, Ph.D.

Ali Eydgahi, Ph.D.

Eastern Michigan University


Photo of Shimming Shyu, Ph.D., RA, LEED AP BD+C

Shimming Shyu, Ph.D., RA, LEED AP BD+C

Eastern Michigan University


Photo of Payam H. Matin, Ph.D.

Payam H. Matin, Ph.D.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore




A façade system is one of the most significant contributors to the energy consumption and the occupants’ comfort of buildings (Aksamija 2016), due to the fact that 20 to 6

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Historical evidence shows how the design and development of responsive facades have been affected from sociocultural, technological, political/economic, and environmental factors. In response, to the lack of comparative chronological analysis

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