Chao Chen from the Royal College of Art made a project on building materials that react to external conditions without human interference. Chen was inspired by a pinecone and how it naturally opens and closes from wet weather. Pinecones are made up of two layers, one that is more porous than the other—when the outer layer gets wet it expands more than the other layer causing it to scale.
Chen attempted to replicate this action by creating a tile where the outer layer curves the material away when wet. This reactive material could offer a way for architects and engineers to incorporate a customizable construction that alters the way people interact with their built environment. Chen suggests that this material may be used in structures that shelter you from the rain but when the sun comes out the tiles carefully curl up, allowing more sunlight in. If the material comes durable enough one day it could be used for bus shelters or even larger buildings in warmer areas.