Car manufacturer's elastic skin technology is hoped to prove viable as a building material

Technology used by car manufacturer BMW is being tested for use on a new cost-effective, low-energy house design.

The project, which is being undertaken by students at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and funded by architect RMJM, is investigating the use of BMW's elastic skin technology, which was used on a recent show car. Unlike conventional sheet metal, the innovative surface is flexible, of lighter weight, and uses less energy to manufacture.

The students will focus their efforts on designing new models for suburban housing, which will be far more affordable than existing stock, both in terms of the building and the operational costs.

Peter Morrison, RMJM chief executive, said: “Architects are always looking for the technologies of the future and affordability, sustainability and design are top of the agenda at the moment. We will work with the greatest minds from any background or industry to exploit new opportunities and so we are delighted to be funding this research which brings together leading industry figures and academia. We look forward to seeing the results of their research.”