Multi-agent-based sensor/actuator systems for intelligent facades

Subproject to the joint research project "BioFass" ("Biologically inspired facades based on multi-agent technology and swarm intelligence")

Problem statement and motivation

Despite recent environmental policies and technological improvements, the compliance with air pollution limits remains a major challenge in urban areas. Actively reducing air pollution, photocatalysts oxidize pollutants by converting the pollutants into less harmful compounds. Therefore, photocatalytic self-cleaning facades are considered a promising solution for reducing air pollution in urban areas. However, latest studies have unveiled that there is room for improvement of the efficiency of state-of-the-art photocatalytic self-cleaning facades, entailing further improvement of air quality.

Project goals and expected outcome

This project aims to improve air quality by increasing the efficiency of photocatalytic self-cleaning facades. The project is biologically inspired in a twofold manner and, to increase facade efficiency, pursues two corresponding goals,

  • (i) the design of a self-regulating titanium dioxide (TiO2) facade adapting the properties of the human skin and
  • (ii) the design of an intelligent sensor/actuator system, biologically inspired by the control and communication capabilities observed in swarms in nature ("swarm intelligence"), aiming to autonomously detect facade conditions and to pro-actively trigger irrigation.

The control of the sensor/actuator system of intelligent TiO2 facades will be implemented based on multi-agent systems. Multi-agent systems are inspired by swarm intelligence, i.e. by the collective behavior known from social insect colonies or other animal societies. Intelligent agents will be distributedly implemented into the sensors/actuators installed at the facades and situated on IoT-based computer systems, serving as interfaces between the facades and human operators. Together with the project partners Bauhaus University Weimar and Fuchs Systembau GmbH, a demonstrator will be developed and validated in the laboratory. Recommendations will be formulated to integrate intelligent TiO2 facades in buildings on a large scale and to adapt the concept to other domains, such as green facades.

Project partners

  • Finger Institute, Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany
  • Fuchs Systembau GmbH, Germany


Professor Dr. Kay Smarsly
Hamburg University of Technology
Institute of Digital and Autonomous Construction
Blohmstraße 15
21079 Hamburg
Email: kay.smarsly(at)