Ariana Rupp


Nottingham Spirk

I like


Fab labs

Electronic music


I am a Fulbright grantee from Portugal. I completed my undergrad and graduate studies at the University of Lisbon, with a bachelor’s degree in physics engineering and a master’s degree in product design. I was part of Lisbon’s FabLab team for two years, volunteering technical support and occasionally working as a freelancer designer.

PhD Projects

Leaf-inspired design of thermal exchangers
Aug 2015 - Current

What can we learn from plant structures, thermodynamics and evapotranspiration to design multi-scale heat transfer devices? Thermal systems inspired by leaf morphology, for industrial, architectural or makerspace application. Exchangers are shaped and structured using patterns taken from plant leaves, from lobes to marginal profiles to tooth-like protrusions. Broadly speaking, this research takes a comparative approach and tests, for different environmental conditions, families of models with same surface area but distinct geometries, tuning and/or exploring specific shape parameters abstracted from leaf designs.

LIWAS wall prototype: shaped tiles and evaporative ceramics
June 2018 - Current

Differential sweating façade concept, materialized in the ceramic component of the LIWAS project, which aimed at designing and prototyping a living wall system with life-like characteristics including structures for evaporative cooling and thermoregulatory function. Since the shape of leaf edges influences evapotranspiration of water, this effect has the potential to cool buildings facades and conserve energy. This prototype will support the study of geometry-modulated evaporation, by a family of ceramic tiles with leaf-inspired morphologies and hypothetically different evaporative cooling capacities.

Selected Papers and Presentations

Investigation of leaf shape and edge design for faster evaporation in biomimetic heat dissipation systems

In previous projects theromodynamics of plants was identified as an interesting field delivering concept generators for technical, especially architectural application. So leaf morphology is determined by a variety of factors, and also significant for plant water and energy balance. However, how leaf design affects evapotranspiration and, consequently, leaf thermal performance and energy budget, has not been investigated in detail. Many leaf-inspired models in the literature overlook leaf hydraulics, capillarity, wetting phenomena in porous materials and the thermal properties of cellulose. To further the knowledge in this field, we have started to research on the relation between wetting, thermal dynamics and shape. We recorded with a thermal camera free convection of wetted models made of laser-cut paper tissue, soaked in water and drying naturally. Families of shapes were abstracted from leaves of deciduous trees: white oak, for their crenations and lobes; maple, for their relatively large teeth; elm, for their smaller hierarchically-ordered serrations. In this abstracted experimental setup, we observed distinct evaporation rates for models with normalized surface area but different boundary perimeters. Outward teeth prompt dewetting nucleation in shapes only differing geometrically, shedding some light on surface designs for heat dissipation versus designs for moist microclimate retention. The biomimetic approach taken will deliver a better understanding of the biological role of leaf structure and support the enhancement of fluid-assisted heat transfer systems, for which further three-dimensional exploration and scale studies are conceptualized.

Breathing skins workshop: A hands-on investigation of bio-inspired foldable structures for temperature and humidity control in buildings

Geometrical and material properties of plant leaves are known to influence heat/moisture dissipation. In many species, exposed “sun” leaves are typically more dissected and possibly better convective heat dissipaters than entire shade leaves. By affecting the overall leaf boundary layer, lower-scale morphology patterns such as toothed edges can also have an important role in heat/moisture dissipation, as pointed by experiments with wetted paper models where outward teeth increased evaporative dissipation rates. Additional leaf morphological traits potentially influencing dissipation are surface corrugations, textures, trichomes and sunken stomata. Such structures can work as “dissipative” or “retaining” geometries depending on how they couple with environmental conditions and modulate leaf boundary layer. The oneweek intensive Kosmos interdisciplinary workshop at the cluster Image Knowledge Gestaltung (Berlin) was an opportunity to explore leaf design and achieve microclimate control for potential applications in technology, specifically building façades. The "Breathing skins” concept was to apply shape-related leaf dissipation strategies into folding structures that can be produced in a typical “maker-lab” setting. After a thematic introduction, participants were asked to target evapotranspiration behavior and shape-change characteristics derived from leaves, and to deliver prototypical designs using a set of prepared materials. Workshop results show the transfer of new findings in research on evapotranspiration of biological plant leaves into 3D structures for technical application. The biomimetic approach taken delivered a first translation of design abstracted from leaves into the realm of foldable geometry, for future development and technological transfer to useable products in architecture, building and fluid-assisted heat transfer systems in general.