When we talk about color in nature, the chameleon and other lizards often comes to mind. Many of them, like this bearded dragon, use its adaptive skin to absorb more heat. Because, as when know, a darker color will become warmer.
Contrasting colors are often used for more than one reason. There have been many theories about the zebra’s stripes and why they are shaped as they are. This includes theories about camouflaging, avoiding bug bites and for recognizing each other. And its still not just one certain answer.
But we do know that the stripes are created when the zebra is still an embryo. This explains why the pattern is not perfectly striped. Because of the legs and the final shape the zebra isn’t developed until later on the stripes seems to be stretched out along the back legs and neck.
But this irregularity in the pattern helps the zebra to blend in and disguise its own silhouette, which makes it harder for predators to distinguish shapes. This fact is also being used by the car industry to avoid revealing new design features from paparazzi’s.
This could easily adapted to architecture to either highlight or disguise an unwanted silhouette by using the same pattern in different scales from another distance, or by highlighting certain volumes with a contrasting pattern.
If we go back to the zebra again, there is a new study that shows the connection between the thickness of the stripes and the climate heat, where you can see that the thickest and the most contrasting stripes are found in the warmer areas.
And they found out that the contrasting stripes are also helping the zebras to cool down. This is by creating small swirls of air in the meeting between the black and white as they heat up differently. They could measure a difference around 5 degrees in between the zebras with darker and bolder stripes and the more paler ones.
So we know now that high contrast patterns could create airflow big enough to affects the surface temperature. This fact could be an adopted to the way we create patterns in high exposed areas, and worked in to the existing patterns
To translate this into building materials we could add the fact that matte and glossy surfaces also affects the heating attraction. So in a simple way, by using different types of glazing on traditional bricks or tiles you could increase this result
The attracting surface can also be improved by working with a more 3dimensional surface. This breaks the light more efficiently and heats up the surface quicker. This could be made by using aluminum foam in the desirable scale and density.
With these facts we could create a pattern which would, in the right scale, not only be a visual feature, but also help us to reduce heat by simply programme the pattern and material to maximize contrast.