The Leaves of the Hornbeam Tree

Name: Ong Ker Sin



This study aims to investigate the leaves structure of the Hornbeam Tree and examine an adaptive building envelope for the existing buildings to regulate indoor temperature and optimize energy efficiency. The author conducted several testing scenario to examine and observe the deployment pattern of the proposed structure as adopted from the leaves structure of the Hornbeam Tree.

Biomimicry System

Leaves of the hornbeam tree (Carpinus betulus)


Leaves must find a compromise between a flexible state that protects them from wind damage, and a rigid state that allows the leaf to maximize surface area exposure. One way to achieve this balance is to use a simple corrugation pattern of alternating crest and valley folds, as is found in the leaves of the hornbeam tree. These folds emanate from both sides of the center vein and repeat along the length of the leaf.


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Project Description


Several background studies were conducted including the types of building envelope retrofit and the types of adaptable building envelope.

Types of building envelope retrofit

The potential types of energy retrofit measures are categorized into passive and active energy retrofit strategies. Therefore, active energy retrofit strategies do play a significant role in improving existing buildings’ energy efficiency. However, passive energy retrofit strategies will contribute to the long term energy efficiency and energy savings of the existing buildings. As mentioned, the overall thermal performance of the building envelope stands out as a key variable in controlling the overall energy consumption of an existing building. Therefore, the improvements in heat insulation and energy efficiency may require a retrofit measure through a comprehensive upgrade of the building envelope (Gou, Lau & Sun, 2019; James, 2019).

“Adaptability” means to explicate any alteration in the surrounding environment and to respond to it (Shahin, 2019). Most of the existing building envelope systems in Malaysia were constructed as static structures that result in a dissociation between the buildings and its surrounding environment. Therefore, in order to provide better efficiency, an adaptable building envelope system is required to respond dynamically to the external climatic conditions.


The properties of an adaptable building envelope system includes:

  • control natural sunlight penetration into the building spaces;

  • insulate undesired solar heat gains from exterior;

  • control moisture penetration into the building spaces; and

  • control natural ventilation to enhance the internal thermal comfort and air quality.