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Michael Fox, Editor

Princeton Architectural Press, New York

Architecture Briefs is a Princeton Architectural Press series that Material Strategies: Innovative Applications in Architecture
addresses a variety of single topics of interest to architecture students and Blaine Brownell
professionals. Field-specific and technical information, ranging from hand- 978-1-56898-986-0
drawn to digital methods, is presented in a user-friendly manner alongside
Model Making
basics of architectural thought, design, and construction. The series
Megan Werner
familiarizes readers with the concepts and skills necessary to successfully
translate ideas into built form.
Old Buildings, New Designs: Architectural Transformations
Also in the Architecture Briefs series: Charles Bloszies
Architectural Lighting: Designing with Light and Space
Herv Descottes, Cecilia E. Ramos Philosophy for Architects
978-1-56898-938-9 Branko Mitrovi
Architectural Photography the Digital Way
Gerry Kopelow Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide
978-1-56898-697-5 David Bergman
Building Envelopes: An Integrated Approach
Jenny Lovell Urban Composition: Designing Community through Urban Design
978-1-56898-818-4 Mark Childs
Digital Fabrications: Architectural and Material Techniques
Lisa Iwamoto Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
978-1-56898-790-3 Alexandra Lange
Ethics for Architects: 50 Dilemmas of Professional Practice
Thomas Fisher
Hypernatural: Architectures New Relationship with Nature
Blaine Brownell, Marc Swackhamer

7 Foreword by Ruairi Glynn

9 Introduction: Catalyst Design in a Connected World

18 May/September / Urbana
28 Technorama Facade / Ned Kahn
30 Windswept / Charles Sowers
36 Reef / Rob Ley, Rob Ley Studio and Joshua G. Stein, Radical Craft

52 Lightswarm / Future Cities Lab
60 Plinthos / MAB Architecture
68 BALLS! / Ruairi Glynn and Alma-nac
78 MegaFaces / Asif Khan Ltd.

90 Al Bahar Towers / Abdulmajid Karanouh, Aedas Architects
98 KfW WestarkadeTower / Sauerbruch Hutton
106 Eco-29 / FoxLin and Brahma Architects
114 Smart Highway / Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure

123 HygroScope + HygroSkin / Achim Menges
with Steffen Reichert and Oliver David Kreig

132 Bloom / DOSU

140 ShapeShift / Manuel Kretzer

151 Epiphyte Chamber / Philip Beesley
160 Conventions of Control / Michael Fox and Allyn Polancic
164 Alloplastic Architecture / Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani

172 Acknowledgments
172 Notes
174 Project Credits

Looking through the work in this book, I am exploits the spectators sensitivity to the subtitles
immediately struck by how much has changed in of motion cues.2 Through careful manipulation of
the landscape of interactive architecture over the rods and strings with rhythmic motion, the essential
past five years. Where Michael Foxs first book breath of the puppet manifests as life: the speed,
on the field, written with Miles Kemp, presented duration, acceleration, and deceleration profiles
a vast and promising array of protoarchitectural of motion conveying inner emotional states. With
projects, here we see how quickly the field is the subtlest of changes in rhythm, the puppeteer
maturing, evolving into ambitious permanent and conveys character in matter, with causal and
semipermanent installations. narrative relationships born of the performance of
I believe this collection of work reflects objects and their environment. Even with little more
an exciting opportunity, in a world of rapid than breath, a thrilling, complex, and challenging
technological change, for architecture to expand its set of aesthetic opportunities can be harnessed,
practice and reaffirm itself as the melting pot of the and as the range of gestures grows, the potential to
arts and sciences. At the Interactive Architecture imbue objects and, indeed, architecture with life and
Lab, were finding that sensory and responsive character seems endless.
technologies expose new and surprising ways to Throughout the history of natural and social
make connections across disparate fields, such as sciences, from Aristotles theories of motion as the
between robotics and the performing arts, wearable exclusive characteristic of living things and the early
computing and perceptual sciences, biology and anthropological studies of primitive cultures to the
the visual arts, and artificial intelligence and digital foundations of perceptual and cognitive psychology,
fabrication.1 And all of this is happening within the we find the association of movement with life itself
wider context of whirlwind progress in robotics that to be deep and universal. Todays advancements in
promises driverless cars, autonomous flying vehicles, medical imaging are revealing the neurological roots
and seemingly endless other computerized forms of this association; its in the very architecture of
that will soon share our built environment. the social human brain. At its core is the instinct to
As these technologies become part of our anthropomorphize the nonhuman, whether animal,
design tool kit, our typical aesthetic considerations inanimate object, or even natural phenomenonto
of space, form, and surface expand to encompass project personality onto other entities as a means of
concerns of the aesthetics of behavior. Increasingly better relating to them.
active, responsive, and kinetic, the material of So as the worlds of architecture and robotics
the built environment is being animated in the collide, offering new motive and spatial forms of
truest sense of the word. Architecture imbued with interaction, the cerebral processes of human social
autonomy, an uncanny sense of life, challenges us relationships are irresistibly stimulated. This renders
to look beyond design disciplines to understand the in strange and uncanny terms a built environment
perceptual, emotional, and social effects of these that may viscerally feel worthy of our care and
pervasive technologies. consideration in ways that inanimate matter cannot.
Puppetry, an ancient art with a rich, albeit We may come to perceive an anthropomorphized
poorly recorded, history, offers us a performative architecture as responsible for its own behavior and
perspective. The trained puppeteer, a conjurer of perhaps even deserving of punishment or reward.
what Roman Paska calls the theatre of possession, As the eminent robotics engineer and philosopher

Rodney Brooks has commented, Ill eventually feel between designer and engineer, fabricator and
we have succeeded if we ever get to the point where philosopher dissolve, architecture occupies the
people feel bad about switching Cog X off.3 The foreground as a space of radical multidisciplinary
surreal psychological and social effects are impossible or even antidisciplinary practice. Let this be an
to fully anticipate. What seems certain is that we opportunity for architects to ask questions not
are at present ill-equipped either conceptually or only about the future of our homes, workplaces,
technically to understand and craft this new aesthetic and public spaces, but also about what it is to be
of behavior. human, our social nature, the future of communities
But then this is really what is so fascinating mediated by technology, and our changing
and what compels us to pursue the potential relationship to the inanimate and animate world
of interactive architecture. We cant forget that around us.
machines are not an entirely new preoccupation.
Vitruvius dedicated an entire book of his treaties Ruairi Glynn, 2016
to machines. Greek mythology told us of Daedalus,
the architect of the labyrinth at Knossos, who
also crafted magnificent mechanical statues. And
by the Renaissance, automatons flourished to act
as centerpieces in royal courts and town squares
alike. The Florentine Francini brothers hydraulic
statues of Saint-Germain-en-Laye famously inspired
Descartes to construct his own automaton; a pursuit
of understanding that challenged the relationship
between the body-machine and the mind-soul, it
animated not only cogs and levers, but also the very
foundations of Western philosophy.
There is something essentially human about
making things that come to life, whether they are
mechanical, robotic, cyborg, or architectural. It
touches upon a human fascination with looking for
life in the inanimate on the one hand and a yearning
to play god on the other.4 The words magic and
machine share the common etymological root magh,
meaning to be able and to have power. We have
a compulsion to understand other living things and
to imitate them. Art itself may be understood as
product of the human need to remake the world in
search of deeper understanding.
Lets continue that search through code,
electronics, networks, mechanics, materials, and
novel methods of fabrication. As distinctions
As we embrace a world in which the lines between Sensors available today can discern almost anything,
the physical and the digital are increasingly blurred, from complex gestures to CO2 emissions to hair
we see a maturing vision for architecture that actively color. An interconnected digital world means, in
participates in our lives. In the few years since the addition to having sensory perception, that data
original Interactive Architecture was published, a setsranging from Internet usage to traffic patterns
number of projects have been built at scales that both and crowd behaviorscan be drivers of interactive
move beyond the scope of the architectural exhibit buildings or environments. Courses in robotic
as test bed and push the boundaries of our thinking prototyping and interaction are commonly taught
in terms of material performance, connectivity, in todays architecture programs, with contextual
and control. Our architectural surroundings have subjects ranging from urban social issues to practical
become so inextricably tied to technological trends sustainability. Perhaps equally as important as the
that the two ultimately and simultaneously respond rapid advance of such technologies is the fact that
to and define each other. The promise of ubiquitous both robotics and interaction are technically and
computing has secured a permanent foothold in economically accessible. The requisite technologies
our lives and has begun to infiltrate our devices and are simple enough to enable designers who are not
objects as well as our buildings and environments. experts in computer science to prototype their ideas
Such is our physical world: not just digital but also in an affordable way and communicate their design
seamlessly networked and connected, an architectural intent. Architects and designers are not expected, as
world that is a direct participant in our lives. Bill on exhibit-scale projects, to execute their interactive
Gates once predicted that by the end of the first designs alone; they are expected, rather, to possess
decade of the twenty-first century there would be enough foundational knowledge in the area to
nothing untouched by the digital.1 By the end of the contribute. In the same way, while architects need
second decade, states the interaction designer Behnaz to learn structural engineering in school and, until
Farahi Bouzanjani, this impact will arguably have recently, have been required to pass a special section
become so pervasive that computation will not be on structures for the professional licensing exam, it is
noticeable anymore.2 The subject of this book is how rarely assumed that architects will do the structural
architectural design integrates and negotiates the calculations for the buildings they design; that work
digital; in our contemporary context, this is nothing is carried out by professional structural engineers.
short of reciprocal innovation. This book surveys The field is fresh with original ideas, illuminated
the rapidly evolving landscape of projects and trends by the built prototypes and architectural projects
that are finally catching up with the past. As a matter illustrated in this book. Driven by the applications,
of definition, interactive architectural environments these genuinely new developments and ideas
are built upon the convergence of embedded will rapidly foster advanced thinking within the
computation and a physical counterpart that satisfies discipline; yet it is important to understand that their
adaptation within the framework of interaction. It foundations have been around for quite some time,
encompasses both buildings and environments that dating back nearly thirty years.
have been designed to respond, adapt, change, and
Young designers have started to realize that Essentially, the theoretical work of a number of
it is possible to build anything they can imagine. people working in cybernetics in the early 1960s laid

Authors caricature
of the cyberneticians
Norbert Wiener and
Gordon Pask

most of the groundwork for the projects highlighted evolving thing.4 Yet it is important to understand
in this book. During this time, Gordon Pask, that while architects were developing these concepts,
Norbert Wiener, and other cyberneticians made areas of digital computation and human interaction
advancements toward understanding and identifying were advancing in parallel fashion within the
the field of interactive architecture by formulating sphere of computer science. From this work, fields
their theories on the topic. Pasks conversation such as intelligent environments (IE) were formed
theory informed much of the original development to study spaces with embedded computation and
in interactive architecture, basically establishing a communication technologies, in turn creating spaces
model by which architects interpreted spaces and that bring computation into the physical world.
users as complete feedback systems.3 Cybernetic Intelligent environments are defined as spaces in
theory continued to be developed into the late sixties which computation is seamlessly used to enhance
and early seventies by the likes of Warren Brody, ordinary activity.5 Numerous technologies were
Nicholas Negroponte, Charles Eastman, Andrew developed in this area to deal with sensory perception
Rabeneck, and others, who expanded upon the and human behaviors, but the corresponding
earlier ideas of Pask and Wiener. architecture was always secondary as it was developed
These early philosophies were then picked up by under the mantra of seamlessly embedded
a few architects who solidly translated them into the computation. In other words, there was very little
arena of architecture. This work generally remained in architectural involvement in the developing field of
the realm of paper architecture, however. Cedric Price computationally enhanced environments. Corporate
was perhaps the most influential of the early architects interests, meanwhile, established market-driven
to adopt the initial theoretical work in cybernetics, interests that played a major role in computationally
expanding it into the architectural concept of enhanced environments through the development of
anticipatory architecture. John Frazer extended Prices numerous market-driven products and systems that
ideas in positing that architecture should be a living, directly involved users in the real world. In the 1990s

there were smart home and smart workplace while there are approximately fifty billion smart
projects being initiated at every turn that relished devices.6 It is the goal (and responsibility) of the
the newly available technologies. For the first time, Internet of Things to connect them in a meaningful
wireless networks, embedded computation, and way.7 These intelligent things are everywhere in
sensor effectors became both technologically and our lives, and many of them are already seamlessly
economically feasible to implement by computer embedded in our architecture, from our kitchen
science. This feasibility fueled experimentation appliances and our HVAC (heating, ventilation, and
with many of the ideas of the previously mentioned air conditioning) systems to our home entertainment
visionary architects and theoreticians, who had been systems. For the time being, most of them are weakly
stifled by the technological and economic hurdles of connected at best. Today the Internet supports
their day. We are now at a time when the economics hundreds of protocols, and it will support hundreds
of affordable computational hardware and increased more. While the world struggles with a protocol
aptitude for integrating computational intelligence platform, the battle over which protocol will prevail
into our environments has become accessible to is being waged at a staggering commercial cost, often
architects. referred to as the protocol wars.
There are numerous contenders in the gamethe
A CONNECTED WORLD IoT needs many. Currently heading the pack are
The influence of technological and economic CoAP, MQTT, and XMPP. The important difference
feasibility within a connected world has resulted between them lies in the distinction of application or
in the explosion of current exploration with the the class of use. Devices must communicate with each
foundations of interaction design in architecture. The other (D2D); device data must then be collected and
Internet of Things (IoT) has quite rapidly come to sent to the server infrastructure (D2S). That server
define the technological context of interactive design infrastructure has to share device data (S2S), possibly
as all-inclusive, existing within this connectedness providing it back to devices, to analysis programs, or
in a way that affects essentially everything, from to people.8 Eventually, all of these connected things
graphics to objects to buildings to cities. To use an will need an infrastructure to enable them to work
architectural analogy, the theoretical foundations together. There are a number of companies currently
have a structure that resides in the connected vying for position; their approaches range from
worlds of Web and mobile and spatial interfacing, cloud-based software (with precedent in things like
and they are still evolving. Theories of a connected vending-machine inventory and engine maintenance)
architectural world existed long before mobile to ultra-narrowband radio transmissions. More than
devices and Web-interface technologies changed likely, the familiar tech trend will prevail: all of the
every aspect of our lives and created the discipline of novel small companies with their individual takes
interaction design. on a similar problem will be pounced on by Apple,
While the first wave of connectivity focused Microsoft, or Google, who will then take the best of
on human-to-human communication, the current each of them and create their own platforms. The goal
focus is on connected things and devices, which of these big companies is to lock everything into their
extends naturally to buildings, cities, and global powerful existing systems.
environments. There are approximately one billion There is currently a need for standardization to
websites and about five billion mobile phones, avoid having one of the big companies determine

this eventual fate, which could indeed result in a various sensor data and visualizations. Through
nightmare where nothing works outside a proprietary the development of an Extended Environmental
system. By embracing open standards, we can ensure Markup Language (EEML), the platform handles
we wont be locked out of a device or forced to use both Web-based and mobile applications for the
only one type of connector at the whim of a single sharing of sensory and environmental data in
company, says Mat Honan in WIRED magazine.9 We real time. Pachube was acquired by COSM, then
have in the past embraced such standards, whereby acquired by Xively (LogMeIn), which encourages
almost all mobile devices already communicate via open digital ecosystems, connecting more than 250
the same Bluetooth wireless standard. The point is million devices, including electricity meters, weather
that every existing company needs to rally behind stations, building-management systems, air-quality
a common standardand do it soon. Scott Fisher, stations, and biosensors, to name just a few.
the founding chair of the Interdivisional Media Architectural applications are iterative in such
Arts + Practice (iMAP) PhD program of the School a connected context. The sensors and robotic
of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern components are now both affordable and simple
California (USC), observes: The growing number of enough for the design community to access; and all
ubiquitous and embedded computing technologies of the parts can easily be digitally connected to each
introduces a new paradigm for how we interact with other. Designing interactive architecture in particular
the built environment, while mobile and pervasive is not inventing so much as understanding what
devices offer new possibilities for sensing and technology exists and extrapolating from it to suit
communicating with buildings and objects in the an architectural vision. In this respect, the designers
physical world. These technologies are used not only of buildings, cities, and larger interconnected
for collecting and providing data, but also as a way to ecosystems have learned a great deal from the rapidly
animate and collectively augment the world around developing field of tangible interaction, essentially an
us.10 Interactions are no longer limited to those of alternate vision for interfacing that was developed to
people interacting with an object, environment, or bring computing back into the real world. Tangible
building, but can now be carried out as part of a user interfaces were envisioned as an alternative to
larger ecosystem of connected objects, environments, graphical displaysan alternative that would bring
and buildings that autonomously interact with each some of the richness of the interaction we have
other. Much of the work at iMAP has been focused with physical devices back into our interaction with
on creating interactive architectural environments in digital content.12 In contrast, the field of industrial
which the buildings themselves become storytelling design came to engage with tangible interaction
characters. As the design researcher Jen Stein states, out of necessity as appliances became progressively
By inviting inhabitants to engage with both the intelligent, containing more and more electronic and
building and other inhabitants, we have introduced a digital components.13 Broadly, tangible interaction
new paradigm for place making within an animated, encompasses user interfaces and interaction
interactive environment.11 approaches that emphasize the sensory appeal and
Usman Haque is a designer with a background materiality of the interface, the physical embodiment
in interactive architecture who has led the way in of data, whole-body interaction, and the embedding
developing a scalable platform for connectivity with of the interface and the users interaction in real
Pachube, which provides a platform for connecting spaces and contexts.

Tangible interaction is a highly interdisciplinary It is impossible to predict how quickly interactive
area. It spans a variety of perspectives, among them architecture will be widely executed or what
human-computer interaction (HCI) and interaction standards and protocols will work their way to the
design, but specializes in interfaces or systems that fore. Yet the projects in this book illustrate that
are in some way physically embodied. Furthermore, such standards and protocols are becoming an
it has connections with product and industrial inevitable and completely integral part of how we
design, arts, and architecture. In a sense, interactive will make our buildings environments and cities
architecture falls under the umbrella of tangible in the future. The platform is ripe to foster unique
interaction along with environments and physical- applications tied to our living trends, which both
artifact, product, and industrial design, only the scale affect and are affected by digital technology. The
is often much larger. chapters that follow document a select number of
Although tangible interaction typically deals pioneering projects that are defining the future of
with the interfacing of objects and artifacts, the interaction. The projects, which are illuminated
connected capabilities have opened up a wealth of firsthand by images and text from the architects
possibilities not only at the scale of the building, but and designers who brought them to life, give insight
also in the city and beyond. One of the pioneers in into the technology and construction that will be an
this area has been the MIT SENSEable City lab, led inevitable and integral part of how we think about
by Carlo Ratti (who also comes from a background architecture. Within a profession recently dominated
in architecture). The lab has done extensive research by a discourse of style, we have begun to detect a shift
into how real-time data generated by sensors, away from questions of representation and images
mobile phones, and other ubiquitous technologies toward processes and behaviors.15 Specific categorical
can teach us how cities are used and how new areas have consequently come to the fore as designers
technologies will ultimately redefine the urban have forged ahead to pioneer this new area of design.
landscape. Ratti argues that urban planning is not Therefore the projects are organized not by how they
just about cities, but about understanding the are made or how they look, but rather according
combination of physical and digital. Ratti says to what they do: exhilarate, communicate, mediate,
[T]he interesting thing is that now the machine, the evolve, and catalyze.
computer, is becoming the city. The city has become
the interfaceto retrieve information, to meet Michael Fox, 2016
other people, to do all the things happening now
with this mixing of bits and atoms. So its this new
exciting equation, putting together people, space,
and technology.14
Additionally, the Situated Technologies initiative,
led by Omar Kahn, Trebor Scholz, and Mark
Shepard, has had a major influence in this area
through symposia, competitions, and publications.
The initiative, which emerges from architecture as
opposed to computer science, takes into account the
social dimension of ubiquitous computing.

Definition: to make cheerful and excited; enliven, elate, move
Related words: arouse, incite, inspire, provoke, stimulate;
bewitch, captivate, charm, delight, enchant, enthrall,
hypnotize, mesmerize, rivet, spellbind; interest, intrigue,
Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. exhilarate, accessed March 25, 2015,

30 WINDSWEPT / Charles Sowers
36 REEF / Rob Ley, Rob Ley Studio and Joshua G. Stein, Radical Craft

If an environment could adapt to our desires, physical change. William Zuk and Roger Clark state
it would have the ability to shape our experience. in their groundbreaking book Kinetic Architecture
The projects in this chapter highlight the emotive that our present task is to unfreeze architecture, to
possibilities of interactive architecture. There is a great make it a fluid, vibrating, changeable backdrop for
deal of built precedence in interactive applications the varied and constantly changing modes of life.
geared toward the evocation of feeling, ranging from An expanding, contracting, pulsating, changing
those that simply provide pleasure to those that architecture would reflect life as it is today and
enable social engagement and contribute educational therefore be part of it.1 Kostas Terzidis explains
benefits. In the public realm, artistic structures such that deformation, juxtaposition, superimposition,
as sculptures, fountains, and facades have adopted absence, disturbance, and repetition are just a few
interactivity as a vital component, inherent to the of the techniques used by architects to express
works in order to capture an audience. Museums as virtual motion and change.2 He clarifies the polarity
well have rapidly embraced interactivity with respect that while the form and structure of the average
to the demands of presenting and viewing exhibits building suggests stability, steadiness, sturdiness, and
and artifacts. Interactivity combined with spatial immobility, the introduction of motion may suggest
adaptability can serve well the temporal nature of agility, unpredictability, or uncertainty and may
changing displays and visitors interaction with them. also imply change, anticipation, and liveliness. The
Many applications incorporate an educational integration of motion into the built environment,
component whereby kinesthetic learning is combined and the impact of such results upon the aesthetics,
with entertainment experiences. Such applications design, and performance of buildings, may be of
enable users to utilize their bodies as well as their great importance to the field of architecture: While
minds in collaborative ways. Children seem happy to the aesthetic value of virtual motion may always be
learn when an entertaining interactive component is a source of inspiration, its physical implementation
involved; being able to control the narrative engages in buildings and structures may challenge the very
them. While interactive entertainment is rapidly nature of what architecture really is.3 It is important
moving into the physical realm, it is a concept born to understand that adaptation in this context is not
of electronic media. The philosopher Marshall quite as simple as satisfying needs. The architect
McLuhan lists three key pleasures that are uniquely Cheng-An Pan states: Needs and desires change,
intensified in electronic media: immersion, rapture, permitting new options to be employed, allowing
and agency. Immersion, he says, is the sense of greater freedom of geographical movement,
being transported to another reality; rapture is accepting personal whim, recognizing changing
the entranced attachment to the objects in that roles and functions, encouraging personal identity,
reality; and agency is the players delight in having reflecting mutations in economic levels, and adapting
an effect on the electronic world. In the world to any change which affects architectural form.4
of entertainment, an engaging environment is by The implications of kinetic architecture touch
definition successful. Looking at the projects that upon building performance on one hand and
follow, we see four very different installations that all aesthetic phenomenology on the other. At an
work successfully to exhilarate. architectural scale, projects often must do both.
All of the projects express a critical dimension In the project titled May/September, installed by
of time and transformation brought about by Urbana on the Eskenazi Hospital parking structure

facade, the primary goal was to create an exhilarating Although designers understand and have
effect at an urban scale. And yet, as principal Rob Ley demonstrated that it is possible to perceive and create
points out, the artwork also serves very pragmatically data from anything, the power of Kahns and Sowerss
as a visual screen for the ordinary parking structure work lies in the exhilarating effect of translating
behind, masking the everyday things one might natural phenomena. Their installations dont just
see there, such as cars, concrete beams, columns, make us aware of that which we havent perceived;
and guardrails. It was required that the piece allow they do so in a way that moves us emotionally. For
for substantial ventilation, which, as a necessity, the Technorama Building at the Swiss Science Center,
worked naturally with the concept. The data from Kahn designed a facade composed of thousands
the noise influences the intense visual screen both of aluminum panels that move in the air currents
conceptually and as a functional driver in the image to reveal the complex patterns of turbulence in the
creation. States Ley: While noise is often understood wind. He is admittedly less concerned with creating
as an unfortunate by-product of image or sound a reality than with unveiling the world in perceptible
reproduction, in this case it becomes a modifier of ways. With Windswept, Sowers takes a similar
a condition. In the same way that grain can impart approach to translation yet in a particularly low-tech
a tonal contribution to a photographic image, it can manner, reinterpreting the effects of the wind in a
also be synthesized into a numeric data set in such way that rewards extended observation. Windswept
a way that obscurity is controlled. As with many serves as a scientific instrument of sorts, acting as a
projects in this area, we see the controlled translation discrete window onto a very large phenomenon that
of urban phenomenon. In May/September, the data, until now has been invisible.
or noise, is technologically sensed and translated to The last project in this section takes a high-tech
another visual sense so that we can understand it approach that relies on a sympathetic understanding
through different patterns. of human behaviors. The same emotive quality
Translation is also a central theme in the two brought about in Kahns and Sowerss portfolios via
projects in this section created by Ned Kahn and the translation of natural phenomena is achieved by
Charles Sowers. Their work hinges on illuminating technological means in the Reef project by Rob Ley
unnoticed or invisible phenomena, where the drivers of Rob Ley Studio and Joshua Stein of Radical Craft.
are not only illuminating and, indeed, exhilarating, The behavior of the reef, which responds to people
but are all the more powerful because they teach us in its space, emulates that of plants and lower-level
about something we might not have been aware of or organisms that are considered responsive but not
could not in fact perceive through our senses alone. conscious. Their concern with a nonmechanized,
In some cases this practice involves scaling up the efficient, and fluid movement derives from our
phenomena; in others, it simply means adding a field emotive interpretation and response to such
of passive agents that can be manipulated by forces, behaviors. Ley remarks that Reefs unique exploration
making it possible for us to understand. Many (if not of technology shifts from the biomimetic to the
most) of the projects in this book rely on a data set biokinetic while liberating and extending architectures
of some kind that is sensed and then translated back capacity to produce a sense of willfulness. He
to the participants. Often the intention is to visualize concludes that behavior may ultimately be more
existing complex patterns and reinterpret them in important than intelligence as we strive for a viable
a medium that is simple enough to comprehend. model of interactivity of space and the user.


This project sought to explore parallels between second, to exploit the effects of such a strategy,
techniques of two-dimensional image construc- so that the reduction in resolution of the system
tion and the tectonic considerations of building enhances the spatial qualities. In this way, optimi-
enclosure. Through rigorous examination of dig- zation becomes an asset to spatial conditioning,
ital image manipulation and reproduction tech- rather than a necessary compromise.
niques, a strategy for the articulation of complex The use of digital image mapping and pixel
arrangements of patterns and edges across a dataextraction techniques in the development
building facade was developed. The primary of architectural form is neither new nor ground-
conceptual intention of the project was twofold: breaking. In fact, examination of the pixel might
first, to interrogate the notion of optimization be the most rudimentary means of extracting
with respect to our contemporary understanding data for digital abstraction and manipulation. For
of fabrication, using image as a conceptual link instance, the extraction of color and brightness
between the efficiency of a digital system and values from an image as a means of manipulating
the performance of a real-world tectonic system; some systemic design parameter across a field

Facade exterior
and Eskenazi
Hospital parking
structure in

Details of facade

condition features heavily in even the most con- Noise, as a concept and as a function,
ceptually superficial attempts at digital design. becomes an important tool in the development
Yet very rarely is the construction of the digital of the facade. While noise is often understood
image itself examined with any degree of rigor. In as an unfortunate by-product of image or sound
the development of May/September, examina- reproduction, in this case it becomes a modifier
tion of image began further upstream, at the of a condition. In the same way that grain can
point at which the image itself is created, taking impart a tonal contribution to a photographic
into account the distortion, abstraction, and image, it can be synthesized into a numeric data
optical processing that occurs so that the image set so that obscurity is controlled. The introduc-
in question may be efficiently projected onto tion of noise is therefore extremely useful, both
a screen. This process of altering the actual in a quantitative sense (by minimizing necessary
image data not only increases the efficiency of resources or processing power) and in a qual-
the digital file but also brings the image closer to itative sense (by improving the likeness of the
its real-world likeness. resultant digital image).

Contemporary modes of digital production a spatial effect before the system breaks or the
often strive to capitalize on the potential for overarching design intention is no longer coher-
unrestrained differentiation in design and output. ent. Beyond this goal, however, there is potential
Mass-customization of components is rapidly for the process of reductive optimization to
becoming the status quo, yet how much of this improve the spatial integrity of the system. It
differentiation is actually necessary for the then becomes both necessary and beneficial to
articulation of gradient spatial conditions? Within exploit moments of commonality and repetition
the academic discourse of architecture, there is within the system.
an ongoing trend to embrace infinite variability The production of images has naturally
of components, even though the theoretical ideal followed the historic limitations of print (and,
of mass-customization remains at odds with the later, digital) technology. Most are familiar with
reality of mainstream contemporary construc- the movable type of the Gutenberg press and
tion and fabrication techniques, particularly on the woodblock printing that preceded it. These
an architectural scale. In a typical fabrication early technologiesand the improved versions
context, every variation in assembly component centuries laterallowed for the relatively quick
is coupled with a substantial increase in time, production of printed type. As technology
labor, and costand it would be naive to believe advanced, so did the capability of including
otherwise. This brings the notion of waste to the images along with type through various mechan-
forefront, both conceptually and pragmatically. ically reproducible means. Of particular interest
As techniques and technology continue to foster in the project is how binary conditions in the
the variability of components an inevitable tip- printmaking world resulted in an increased focus
ping point may be seen on the horizon, at which on obtaining the most from the least: the ability
we start to observe that just because we can to produce complex images, including perceived
doesnt mean we should. shades of gray or various color hues, while still
The obvious goal of optimization is to reduce being produced with a single color. Halftoning
the number of components necessary to create is the most commonly used method today and a

above and right:
Facade elevation
and section detail

Anodized aluminum panels

with powder-coat paint on
one side

good example of a technique that uses a limited New unistrut-type steel

palette along with spacing and dot sizing to mounting structure
attaches to and in front
create a complex image. of existing tube steel
May/September derives a noise-based tex-
tural building enclosure by leveraging a palette
of architectural components from the phenom- Existing concrete
enal qualities of dithering and error-diffusion in structure

printmaking. In this way, three basic typologies

with three sized subsets, along with part mirror-
ing, produce a palette of eighteen unique parts.
These components, along with a yellow/blue
binary color palette, produce a complex, though
nuanced, condition from a relatively small set of
variables. The manipulation and translation of a
limited set of components is a more interesting
challenge than just adding more unique parts.

Art Panel Sizes and Orientation 50.0

8" 8"
8" 8" Bolts Bolt
(Type TBD)
(Type &&Spacing
Spacing TBC)
Folded Metal

Length 1 Folded Metal
Folded Metal Leaf
(Thickness and Coating TBD)


8" 8" Structural Steel
Structural Steel
Steel Structural Column

(Size and Type TBD)


12" 12"

While variability of experience is an
Length 2
important goal of the piece, the system


24" has been
While designed
variability with efficiency
of experience of goal
is an important
24" 10.0 fabrication
of the piece, theand installation
system has beenindesigned
mind. with

12" 12" 16" 10.0 Within aoffield

efficiency of nearly
fabrication and 6,500 individual
installation in mind.
12" 12"
Within there
a field exist only
of nearly 6,500three different
individual pieces,
pieceexist only three
lengths anddifferent piece lengths and
three different
three different fold angles - strategically
fold angles strategically rotated and rotated and

Length 3
MIRROR distributed to create the illusion of infinite
distributed to create the illusion ofvariability


across the canvas of the faade.

infinite variability across the canvas of

the facade.

Type 3
10.0 The metal panels are to be anchored to a lightweight
Type 3 Type 2
16" Type 1
Type 2
Mirrored Mirrored The metal panels are to be anchored
metal tubing system - the size and specific material
32" to a lightweight metal tubing system
of which will be specified in accordance with advice
the size
from and specific
a structural engineermaterial of which
as the project evolves.
16" 16" 30.0 will be specified in accordance with

advice from a structural engineer as the

project evolves.



45.0 45.0 50.0

22.5 22.5

Eskenazi Hospital Parking Garage Faade
Design Development
[ Nov 2012 ] Urbana, Rob Ley

Note: Fabricator to co- Diagrams of facade

ordinate hole arrange- flap types
ment and fastener with
structural engineering
drawings, calculations,
and specifications

Dithering and noise

opposite, top:
Views of center
Ned Kahn with facade in

In 2002 Ned Kahn worked with the staff of is the focal point of the large urban plaza in
Technorama, the Swiss Science Center, and the front of the museum. Each moving element is a
institutions architectural office of Durig and three-inch (7.6 cm) square of thin aluminum with
Rami to create a six-story facade for the building. a low-friction plastic bearing pressed into the
The facade comprises thousands of aluminum top edge. These bearings ride on stainless-steel
panels, set in motion by air currents to reveal axles, held by an aluminum framework to the
the complex patterns of turbulence in the wind. structural beams of the building. Each element
For the installation, the entire 220-foot-long responds uniquely to the winds forces, but the
(67.1 m) facade of the museum was covered entire facade displays complex, coordinated
with eighty thousand wind-animated panels. movements that coalesce into a rendering of the
The brushed-aluminum surface of the panels larger-scale patterns and textures of its passing.
reflects light and color from the sky and the The artwork has survived extreme windstorms,
surrounding buildings. As a whole, the facade ice storms, and more than a decade of constant

Details of facade in
different states

Facade at rest

exposure to the sun without damage or degrada-

tion. Applying the same strategy by which trees
deflect damage in high winds with their leaves,
the small surface area of each individual moving
element in the Technorama Facade reduces the
effect of the forces that build up during a storm.

Charles Sowers

Windswept, commissioned by the San Francisco work Sowers hopes to engage people in an unex-
Arts Commission for a permanent installation pected dialogue with their locale and provoke
at the Randall Museum, is a wind-driven kinetic the desire to notice the beauty and intrigue of
facade that transforms a blank wall into an the world around them.
observational instrument and reveals the com- The Randall Museum site, like many in San
plex interactions between wind and environment. Francisco, is characterized to a great extent by
Over the years, Charles Sowers has become its relationship to the wind. Climatically, offshore
increasingly interested in rooting his works in winds bring warm weather from Californias
the dynamics and phenomena of their particular Central Valley, while onshore winds produce San
location. Many of these works are a blend of aes- Franciscos famously chilly weather. Sowers knew
thetics and information. This has led to a kind of he wanted to work with the wind. Initially he pro-
aesthetic/scientific instrumentation that reacts posed an altogether different idea in a different
to a site and promotes insight into normally location, but then the museums staff articulated
invisible or unnoticed phenomena. Through such the desire to address a blank wall thirty feet high

Facade in motion
as viewed from
parking lot

(9.1 m) and thirty-five feet (10.6 m) wide, that building and its environment. The arrows are
faces the parking lot and is the first impression balanced so that they remain at rest in their last
visitors have of their facility. position; thus they preserve a snapshot of the last
Drawing attention to the unnoticed or unseen wind gust even when calm. In this way the piece
is a dominant theme in Sowerss work, and conveys movement even when it is not actually in
Windswept is no exception. It presents actual motion. The aim was to provoke a sense of delight
physical phenomena that draw people into a con- and wonder and reward extended observation.
scientious noticing and interaction. The design Typically of Sowers, this work involves setting
consists of 612 freely rotating directional arrows, up conditions for some other force to animate or
which serve as discrete data points indicating the complete, whether that completion is achieved by
direction of local flow within the larger phenom- the interplay of some natural phenomenon, the
enon. Wind gusts, rippling and swirling through interaction of viewers, or both.
the sculpture, visually reveal the complex and Windswept was inspired by scientific
ever-changing way the wind interacts with the diagrams called vector fields, which show the

Studies of fin types

Context diagram

Construction of
direction and intensity of certain phenomena, like facade structure
wind, fluid flow, or magnetic fields. Sowers, who
always found these diagrams intriguing, got the
idea that he could make an animated physical
analog. Like vector-field diagrams, Windswept
seeks to reveal information about the wind. More
than an informational graphing technique, how-
ever, it is a real-time, highly kinetic instrument
that reveals the interaction between the site and
the wind. Our ordinary experience of wind is as
a solitary sample point of a very large invisible
phenomenon; Windswept allows us to see the
beautiful complexity of wind flowing through the are made for. This led Sowers down a path of
built environment. inquiry and experimentation with wind-vane
Sowers spent more than a year and a half design. His initial designs were rather naive, and
prototyping and testing wind-vane designs, his lack of understanding was quickly revealed
beginning by purchasing a number of commer- when he held them out the car window while
cially available maritime wind vanes, mounting driving down the road or simply ran around with
them on a panel, and testing them in a wind. He them like a six-year-old: the vanes would align
quickly discovered that these products were perpendicularly to the airflow or oscillate back
inadequate to his requirements as they were not and forth. He made several dozen paper models
durable enough, and their bearings are designed of different designs and tested them at the
for rotation in a horizontal plane. He needed beach or outside his apartment, in an investi-
them to rotate in a vertical plane as well as to gation that was both functional and aesthetic.
be readable from a distance and from a vantage Ultimately Sowers tested eight different alumi-
point other than that which maritime wind vanes num arrows, for nearly a year on-site and for a

Details of facade in
year and a half outside his apartment window, stainless-steel axles. Once the panels were various states
in the very harsh salt air of Baker Beach in San installed, the arrow assemblies were threaded
Franciscos Presidio. into the rivet nuts.
The final wind arrows are made of brake- The total installation time was just four
formed anodized aluminum. The arrow axles days, and the result is has been gratifying for
are mounted to a standard, metal, architectural Sowers; he had understood how a small number
wall system consisting of twenty-five panels. of arrows moved in the wind but had been able
The panel wall was set off the existing concrete only to imagine how the whole assemblage would
masonry unity (CMU) wall to allow an equal behave; in this way Windswept truly has been
volume of airflow for an HVAC vent that the an experimental instrument, allowing for the
sculpture covers. Holes were then punched in observation of a phenomenon that could be envi-
the panels in a twelve-by-twelve-foot (3.7 by sioned and possibly modeled but not persistently
3.7 m) grid pattern, into which the installation perceived in the real world.
contractor secured rivet nuts to accept the

Rob Ley, Rob Ley Studio and Joshua G. Stein, Radical Craft

Over the last century, the potential of an interac- technological developments, architecture benefits
tive, information-based architecture has shot off from advances in material science, computational
in varied directions. The most apparent scenario is capacities, and information fluidity. Five years
often perceived to be that in which an individual is ago, Rob Ley Studio began a line of research
served by his or her surroundings. All of the prece- grounded in the assumption that the responsibil-
dent proposals rely on a degree of intelligence ity of architecture can and should be more than
possessed by the machine. Essentially, the envi- providing shelter. Rather than continue with the
ronment must be designed to be smart enough to belief that good contemporary architecture is
predictor at least understand in real timethe that which serves, over the last several years the
users needs and wishes such that an immediate studios work has focused on creating architec-
technological gratification quickly follows. ture that establishes a behavioral position. That is
As fields outside architecture (transportation, to say, an environment that serves the user is less
medicine, communication, etc.) have evolved beneficial than one that expresses a degree of
exponentially in proportion as they emanate from willfulness and offers companionship.

Reef as viewed
from Kenmare. The
street interacts with
the busy foot traffic
moving between
NoLita and SOHO.

The Reef project pulls from this research their presence and actions had an immediate
and comprises hundreds of responsive surfaces effect on the space. Rather than focusing on
powered by nitinol, a shape-memory alloy, in its the reasons for responsiveness, people were
muscle wire form. This spatial arrangement, attracted to the nature of the motion, as in the
combined with an interface fed by an RGB dynamic between owners and their robotic pets.
camera and processed with software written for This consistent response by the variety of users
the Max/MSP platform, created an environment has clarified earlier observations that intelligence
that responded to inhabitants. The processing of and the capacity to process information may be
responses was guided by criteria ranging from overrated criteria within the study of interac-
basic location and proximity to more complex tive environments and artificial intelligence.
information such as the color of clothing and Behavioral qualitiesparticularly kinematic
whether users were alone or in groups. More motion and indirect responsivenessare more
interesting than the arbitrary processing criteria successful in creating a connection between
was how the users responded once they realized inhabitants and their environment. Continuing

Reef installation
works in tandem
with Acconci/Hall
facade to create
several interactive
layers between
private gallery and
public sidewalk

research projects now look at the roles scale and by claims of efficiency through intelligence.
materiality have in the dynamic. However, this territory of rational efficiency and
Reef redefines the role of the architectural intelligence quickly doomed architecture to the
envelope by capitalizing on emerging material roles of the spectacular machine or the respect-
technology to imbue space with behavioral ful servant. The heroics of Ron Herrons Walking
qualities. In this installation at Storefront for Art City or even contemporary retractable stadium
and Architecture in New York City, the public canopies rarely attempt to operate as a medium
engaged in the new social nuances revealed by for social interaction. In these cases, technology
exploding the typical boundary separating private drags with it a machine aesthetic, distancing it
and public space. The exhibitions responsive from the sphere of the social. Could a different
membrane created a diverse range of porous and paradigm expand the possibilities for viewing the
dynamic enclosures, capable of producing sophis- human relationship with technology and space?
ticated, flexible interactions with an existing Reef investigated the role emerging material
program. Reef produced an interior condition technology can play in the sensitive reprogram-
that reacted according to an exterior stereoscope ming of architectural and public space. For exam-
and reasserted an active, willful role in shaping ple, nitinol, was developed in the 1950s and 60s
that public space. Although architects have often but has only been used in practical applications
experimented with new technology, the disci- for the last twenty years. It is part of a class of
pline has been slow to investigate how material metals called shape-memory alloys (SMAs),
technologies can impact social structures within which are metals that change shape according
the built environment. The contemporary need to temperature. When these alloys are used as
for social overlap, idea sharing, and collaborative wires, a simple electric current offers enough
production demands that architecture develop heat to change the dimensions of the material,
alongside these emerging technologies. creating a wire that looks like any other typical
Architectures earlier flirtations with motion wire but whose length can be precisely varied
and technology have often been justified and controlled. Nitinol wire can contract along

Interior view

its axis by about 5 percent of its overall length, or a reef covered with sea anemones embodies
meaning that a length of 39 inches (99 cm) can the type of responsive motion this technology
shorten to 37 inches (94 cm). The effects of affords. Practical applications have been limited
this small modulation in length can be amplified to the medical and aerospace fields as well as
when the wire is used as an actuator for a larger to novelty toysthe super exclusive versus the
surface. Mating SMA technology with a simple trite. Despite the potential of this technology,
panel material creates a module that can alter there have been few serious attempts to test its
its shape dramatically, offering the possibility of possibilities at the scale of architectural environ-
efficient, fluid movement without the mecha- ments. Reefs unique exploration of technology
nized motion of earlier technologies. Operating shifts from the biomimetic to the biokinetic while
at a molecular level, this motion parallels that liberating and extending architectures capacity
of plants and lower-level organisms that are to produce a sense of willfulness.
considered responsive but not conscious. A field While much of contemporary architec-
of sunflowers tracking the sun across the sky ture looks to nature for its form-making

Aluminum tabs
organize flow
and orientation
of fins and create
an interface for
dynamic control

abilitiesbiomimeticsthe impact is often could be understood with this same sensibility?

limited to exactly this arena of formalism. Reefs Stepping back from viewing architecture as an
exploration of biokinetics allows the logic of exclusively formal pursuit allows a more careful
nature to move beyond the merely formal, examination of its social effects.
instead creating an environment of vigorous Reef furthers the experimental agenda of
interaction. No longer looking to nature purely Storefront through the investigation of a sophis-
for static ideals of beauty, this project investi- ticated and flexible negotiation of the public
gates natures ability to form dynamic connec- street and the typical first-floor retail space. The
tions that start as physical but quickly lead to original building facade, by Vito Acconci and
social implications. These lively relationships, Steven Holl, engaged public space in a novel way
so prevalent in natural ecosystems, seem to by locating the art and architecture experiment
imbue nature with a consciousness that eludes at the interface between gallery and street rather
rationalizations based on efficiency. Is it possible than sealing it off from the public life of the
that technological implications in architecture street. Reef extended this experiment with the

Details of fins

introduction of a more precise and fluid second- from the corner, this surface wrapped back on
ary interface, one charged with fostering refined itself to create a barrel vault of reactive fins,
social interactions through a variable and fluid offering a more physically immersive experi-
porosity. Using an aggregation of six hundred ence. The surface was striated with a fin pattern
responsive fins that form a singular surface, the running parallel to the storefront, creating a
installation negotiated the unique site condi- secondary layer of mediation inside the Acconci-
tion of the gallery, imbuing the space with an Holl operable wall. The effect of the combined
identifiable personality while affecting the social fin movement created local moments of visual
patterns and movement patterns both inside and transparency or opacity and altered the per-
outside the gallery. Unlike the typical activities ceived scale and energy of the space, allowing it
one associates with ground-floor spaces of to selectively open visually to passersby.
New York Cityretail, office, or galleryhere
the motion and sway of nature, like trees in the
wind, folded into the interior space, drawing in
the sensibility of the outdoors. In tandem with
the Acconci-Holl facade, the responsive surface
was structured by an aluminum lattice capable
of fitting snugly inside the specific context of the
Storefront gallery. Within Storefronts planimetric
wedge, this surface moved from simple vertical
plane to volumetric habitable space, producing
intense and varied experiential conditions. At the
narrow end of the wedge, the vertical responsive
surface acted as an interior billboard, drawing in
the public from the busy street intersection. As
the wedge of the Storefronts gallery expanded

drawing showing
animated social
as it spills into
the streetscape.
An ambiguous,
porous envelope
created by both
the building facade
and the variable
fin surface of
the installation
passersby to not
only peek in, but
to meander in from
the public space of
the sidewalk.

Diagram showing Animated

the installation sequence diagram
as situated within demonstrates fin
the context of the motion as it ripples
gallery through gallery

J-3 H-4
I-3 G-4
J-4 H-5
I-4 G-5
J-5 H-6

Assembly diagrams

Illustration showing
the arrangement
of hundreds of
muscle wire
driven composite
fins attached
to aluminum
Dashed curved
lines indicate the
range of motion
exhibited by
the kinetic fin

Definition: to convey knowledge of or information about:
make known
Related words: conduct, convey, give, impart, spread, transfer,
transfuse, transmit
Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. communicate, accessed March 25, 2015,

52 LIGHTSWARM / Future Cities Lab

60 PLINTHOS / MAB Architecture
68 BALLS! / Ruairi Glynn and Alma-nac
78 MEGAFACES / Asif Khan Ltd.

As our buildings begin to do more than scientific principles.2 It is important to recognize that
respond, becoming truly interactive in the sense of people truly desire space, not style, and to understand
facilitating conversations, we enter into relatively the role that interactive architectural applications can
unknown territory with respect to our behavioral play in facilitating such desires.
awareness. Our buildings are furthermore no longer We do not inhabit architectural space simply for
limited to one-on-one conversations in that they can shelter; we do so because we need the experience
respond to, convey information about, and interact of space, which hinges on a great number of factors
with assemblies of users. At the same time, such at once, including lighting, acoustics, materiality,
applications convey a level of interaction between and the other people in that space. Lightswarm, by
the individual and groups of individuals. When Future Cities Lab, combines many of these factors
architectural space has a true communicative capability, and communicates them to users simultaneously.
it fosters a heightened sense of attachment. As the Lightswarm also translates sound as the May/September
theorist Nikos Angelos Salingaros states: Our society project by Urbana does, but the Future Cities Lab
tries to understand its own structure, and builds its project strategically applies the translation to a public
physical extensions on the earths surface, guided by the lobby space. In this case, sound communicates an
blank slate hypothesis.1 The minds reactions to form auditory pulse and amplifies it into cascades of light.
and environment have led to many mistakes in the past, Here the translation is that of a very perceptible
as Steven Pinker points out: City planners believed phenomenon, one that simplifies the chaotic acoustic
that peoples taste for green space, for ornament, for patterns of sound and engages the people in the lobby
people-watching, for cozy places for intimate social by making them appreciate and interact with it. Noise
gatherings, were just social constructions. They were in public spaces such as lobbies and offices presents an
archaic historical artifacts that were getting in the way interesting case of a phenomenon that can profoundly
of the orderly design of cities, and should be ignored by effect our experience of those spaces. Some lobbies,
planners designing optimal cities according to so-called such as those designed for hotels, purposely manipulate

the acoustic quality of the space to enhance the overall The design of BALLS!, by Ruairi Glynn and Alma-
quality of the space. While this is typically done nac, not only transforms the atrium of the engineering
through the use of materials inherent to the space, its firm Arups headquarters in a dramatic fashion, but
effect is often supplemented by the sound from ambient also communicates a number of invisible data sets
speakers. There are cars that use noise-cancellation within the building as a whole, including, Glynn states,
technology such as that developed by Harman current energy consumption within the building,
International Industries, but this kind of solution is not the number of people working in the office, Internet
practical at the scale and complexity of buildings.3 traffic intensity, noise from meeting rooms, or even
Noise, after all, is often a positive factor in our how much coffee is being consumed. Superficially,
understanding of space, how we behave in space, and the balls simply change color as they rise and fall, but
even how we work in a space. Many studies have shown the important effect is that they can communicate
the effects of sound on our behaviors and cognition in real-time data sets about any number of phenomena
general; a recent study out of the University of Chicago within the building. There is no governing program
observed some direct correlations between sound and for how the system behaves. BALLS! is essentially an
creativity. The study found that ambient noise was instrument played via the behaviors of the participants
the optimal level for creativity, whereas extreme quiet in the building at any given time. Depending on the
sharpens our focus, making it hard for us to think governing factors extracted from the data sets, the
creatively.4 While we may think it best to have an office lobby can communicate an extremely wide palette
environment with high levels of acoustic isolation, of experiential qualities. An analogy would be the
it may in fact be better simply to take the ambient different sounds generated by playing the same drum
noise, say, of cell-phone conversations and translate with your hand, with drumsticks, or with wire brushes.
it into something more pleasing, like birds chirping The classic project MegaFaces, by Asif Khan Ltd., relies
or ocean waves. These noises help us stay acutely on communication at the most basic, literal level.
connected to the environment. The Plinthos pavilion, The designers self-stated interest was to create a
by MAB Architecture, takes a powerful approach monument to celebrate people, regardless of their status
to enhancing the sensory experience of the visitor, as athletes or spectators, their age, nationality, sexuality,
employing interactive mechanisms not as add-ons but or gender. Almost the inverse of Ruairi Glynn and
as integral parts of the architectural materiality. They Alma-nacs project, which communicates conceptually
used clay brick because it is one of the most common complex data sets in a simple way, MegaFaces
and rudimentary materials that have human scale communicates a very simple conceptmaking an
(a property inherent to its small modularity), and in emotional connection with individualsvia complex
contrast to the typical approach using contemporary technical means. The result is worth it, however, as over
materials, the brick is perceived as a symbol of solidity 150,000 people participated in its first incarnation at
and reliability as the surface of the entire pavilion. The the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The complexity of
poetic combination of high tech and low tech creates a 3-D facial scanning, translated through the use of more
natural attachment to the space where the interaction than eleven thousand actuators, creates a monumental
takes place. High and low also play with the materiality effect whereby the beauty emerges from the simplicity
of transparency not typically associated with brick, of the message.
which allows for the manipulation of light, sound,
and air.

Future Cities Lab

Lightswarm is a semipermanent interactive and the outside spaces. The YBCA commis-
light installation in the public lobby of the Yerba sioned the installation both to provide shade
Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), in down- to the lobby and, more importantly, to create a
town San Francisco. The installation, measuring public participatory interface for the center.
approximately one hundred feet (30.5 m) wide One of Future Cities Labs initial observations
by thirty-five feet (10.7 m) tall, is located in a was that the facades large glass panes subtly
one-foot (0.3 m) sliver of space just behind pulsed in response to passing vehicles and loud
the south-facing facade of the Fumihiko Maki music. As a way to visualize this energy, they
designed building. The facade faces the Yerba prototyped vibration sensors with LED graphic
Buena gardens, above the Moscone Convention displays and attached them to various locations
Center, and sits opposite a busy urban cinema along the facade. By adjusting the sensitivity
and several neighboring museums. The existing of the sensors, they discovered that they could
nonoperable facade creates a highly reflective capture a range of acoustically generated
visual and acoustic barrier between the inside vibration coming from both inside the lobby and

Detail of fins

outdoors. This included sounds as indistinct as graphically visualized this data in real time,
conversations and bicycles traversing the garden creating a feedback loop between their variable
sidewalks. They then attached a grid of vibration inputs and a range of potential outputs, includ-
sensors to the facade, creating what they called ing light levels. This allowed them to explore
their city sensor: a large-scale sensing array the facade as a live field condition, popu-
that eventually allowed them to capture and lated with arrays of responsive LED modules
visualize a multitude of sounds and that created that could geometrically transform through
a real-time dialogue between the inside and the rotation, scale, opacity, and gradient changes.
outside of the building. Additionally, they began to investigate the use
As a part of the prototyping process, the of autonomous swarming algorithms that could
Lab remapped and superimposed the data amplify these effects and generate a range of
coming from the city sensor inputs over an emergent behaviors. Rather than an immediate
elevation of the facade. Using Arduino hardware local response, where sensor values and LED
with Grasshopper and Firefly software, they values are matched one to one, the algorithm

Interior atrium
space showing

compares all incoming sensor values across the local site, the adjacent neighborhood, and the
facade, identifies the largest value, and accel- city beyond.
erates a virtual attractor point in its direction. The final Lightswarm installation is made
Each suspended light modules brightness then of 450 illuminated light modules within custom
increases as the virtual swarm passes by it. suspended frames. Each module consists of
Lightswarm continuously seeks to spotlight the an intricately laser-cut hand-sewn shell that
area of the facade with the most acoustic vibra- supports a 3-D printed chassis, which houses
tion, be it inside or outside, created by human a microcontroller and LED module. Custom
or machine. Regardless of whether people are vibration sensing spiders are attached directly
deliberately interacting with the facade or not, to the glass panes with clear adhesive. Running
the algorithm always self-calibrates to pursue in the background, a Processing sketch receives
even the faintest sound. In this way, the facade real-time data from these sensors and uses
revealed that it was in a state of continuous it to drive a real-time swarm simulation. This
negotiation of the acoustic subtleties from the simulation is then used to send out packets of

Views of interactive
change over time

data to control the brightness of the individually

addressable LED modules.
The result is a dynamic cascade of light
streaming playfully across the facade night and
day. At one moment its behavior might seem
erratic and self-motivated; but upon delib-
erate human interaction (a tap on the glass,
for instance), its behavior transforms into a
swarming frenzy of local illumination. It is this
transformation from passive to active that gives
Lightswarm its distinctly eager-to-pleasesome
might say neuroticpersonality.

Diagram of facade

Diagram of fin

Diagram of
feedback loop






Diagram of inside
and outside

Sectional diagram
of human

Elevation of atrium

projections of
sensing spiders
and fins

MAB Architecture

The Plinthos pavilion was created for the and cumulative surface texture often provide
ID10 Interior Design Show in Greece. MAB sensual qualities. There are countless shapes
Architecture was commissioned by the event and sizes of brick, from traditional to contem-
organizer to design a temporary pavilion from porary hollow types; and with new technologies
materials provided by sponsoring companies, there seems to be no limit to the variety of brick
one of which was a clay-brick manufacturer. bonds or the ways they can be stacked. With
MAB Architecture was interested in using Plinthos, MAB Architecture wanted to explore
clay brick (plinthos in Greek) because it is one these characteristics and possibly add another
of the most common, rudimentary materials. It quality, transparency: something that is not
has been universally used as a building material normally associated with clay brick. To enhance
for millennia, helping to shape the largest the sensory experience of the pavilions visitors,
part of our built environment. Clay brick has interactive mechanisms were employed not as
human scale and is perceived as a symbol of an add-on but as an integral part of the struc-
solidity and reliability. Its warm color palette tural design.

Lighting detail

More than twenty thousand hollow bricks background soundscape and an expanding RGB
were used to complete the floor plate and walls. light communicated through the wall, transform-
The usually hidden, perforated sides of the bricks ing the structure into a living organism in which
were exposed, creating a permeable surface that the visitor gets completely involved.
allowed for the flow of air, light, and sound. The Since Plinthos was built indoors, there was
visual transparency created by the perforated no need for any weather-protection measures.
brick wall became the channel of interaction However, seismic activity is a frequent phe-
between the visitors and the structure. Apart nomenon in Greece; therefore, all the relevant
from the clay brick, the only other material used structural and safety requirements had to be
was a glossy, black, stretch ceiling membrane, considered. Exposed brickwork is not common
which acts as a mirror and creates the optical in this region, and local bricklayers tradition-
illusion of a larger space. ally work within a great amount of tolerance,
The structure was built inside an exhibition because walls are normally plastered following
hall, within a black box with a single entry point. assembly. It proved difficult to find bricklayers
The space between the outer skin of the black with the required skill and precision. The entire
box and the inner brick skin was a service area, construction had to be completed within ten
where most of the interactive mechanisms were days, so efficiency and good coordination were
positioned. The pavilion did not offer an external a prerequisite. Eventually, a team of tilers was
facade, as it was enclosed within the black box, hired to build a brick wall with a satisfactory
but instead offered a theatrical entrance, which surface finish.
revealed very little of the interior. The entry The construction began with the laying of
sequence was carefully choreographed as the the brick slab. This floor plate, measuring forty
visitor moved from the brightly lit exterior of feet (12.2 m) by twenty-seven feet (8.2 m),
the exhibition hall to a dimmed, monochromatic, became the carpet on which the wall of the
all-brick interior. The interior space breathed pavilion sat. The wall, at a height of ten feet (3.1
through its permeable wall and floor. A constant meters), unraveled like a ribbon to create the

Views of interactive
lighting variations Images of architec-
tural scale exhibit
with gesturally
controlled naviga-
tional screens that
move across a wall

enclosure. Bricks were laid with minimal grout,

joined together by fast-setting tile glue instead
of the usual mortar. Structurally, the walls and
an approximately two-foot (0.6 m) band of the
floor brick slab on either side of the wall were
designed to act as a single elementan upside-
down T, shaped by bricks held together by the
tile glue. The rest of the flooring was formed by
loose-laid brick infill. The structural issue of the
stretch ceilings lateral force on the walls was
solved by adding a perimeter steel-plate ring to
the top of the wall.
The Plinthos pavilion became a space of
exploration and contemplationa sanctuary for
the sensesthat allowed visitors to experience
architecture through an unusual set of lenses.
Its fluid design invited visitors to navigate within
thousands of perforations and form an intimate
relationship through masterfully articulated poetic
expressions. Together with the hard surface of the
structure, multiple ubiquitous layers of media and
other technologies existed and intended to blend
harmoniously into a performative/responsive
architectural installation. Each layer was respon-
sible for a specific outcome; however, all elements
intercommunicated when necessary to express an
orchestrated intelligence as one of the construc-
tions fundamental extensions.
Behind the walls of the vertically rotated
stacks of bricks, a big roll of reflective white
paper wrapped the environment in a protective
membrane, its main intention not to provide
safety but to reflect light emitted from a series of
interconnected LED bars positioned at the bot-
tom of the exterior wall. The light fixtures were
tilted toward the white paper rather than the

Diagram of
interactive systems
1 flexible white LED light striop

2 high power RGB LED wall washer

3 Lucciola floor light fittings by

Viabizzuno (Carbon fibre stems with
LED lights and glass diffusors)
4 white paper roll as reflector

5 digital pc camera

6 PC + DMX controller

7 speakers

1 2 3 4

Floorplan of

walls in order to reflect a uniform lighting coating To create a synesthetic experience, real-time
that could be viewed from the interior through sonic compositions accompanied the lighting
the transparency of the bricks open cells. The effects to enhance the feeling of immersion and
light compositions were never in stasis; rather to extend perceptual levels by way of aural exci-
they oscillated through never-ending patterns to tation mechanisms. A large database of prere-
accompany real-time events taking place within corded and synthesized sound files were fed into
the structures interior. A computer vision-analy- the main processing system, which composes in
sis algorithm was developed to scan and analyze real time the soundtrack of the space. Different
a number of visitor interactions, such as motion, layers of the sonic composition were generated
presence, position, circulation, energy, or forma- from the sound files in combination with different
tion clusters. The algorithm produced multidi- processing algorithms to provide rich spectra
mensional information about spatial occurrences, of sonic images. The final result was projected
helping the system identify patterns and drive through a multichannel speaker configuration
the lighting compositions accordingly. that surrounded the environment, while all the

above: The pavilion
under construction
right: View of
pavilion entrance

Concept image of
brick translucency

Title of Work: plinthos pavilion

Type of Building/Space: interactive installation
Location of Work: Athens, Greece
Month and Year of Completion of Work: 11/2010
Light Sources Used: High power RGB LED wall washer/White LED strip lighting/ floor
light fittings (carbon fibre stems with LED lights and glass diffusors)

audio equipment remained hidden beneath the The number of triggered light movements
Concept:surface of the hard structure. Interactivity: determined the selectionSustainability:
of specific database
Beyond the atmospheric background that categories, representing a level of complexity
Clay brick has been one
became of the mostofcommonly
an extension the spatialVisual transparency created
interactions, by the perforated
analogous brick Thematerial
to the recorded pavilion was
thata was
temporary structure construct-
used building materials, which exists for thousands wall, becomes the channel of interaction between ed from locally manufactured clay brick. After the
the stem lights of the interior space were used created during the construction of Plinthos. That
of years. It has always been a symbol for solidity the visitors and the structure. The interactive mech- demolition all materials were recycled. Brick rubble
and reliability,as
human scale, mechanisms for the
and in many cases it reproduction
anisms are engaged by materialtouching or included
shaking astemgreatwas
dust and reused for decorative clay
has also beenofadmired
audio forevents. These
its sensual reproductions
qualities. With light were
fittingsthen ingfloor.
installed in the sounds, suchrecords
A camera as hits,renders,
smashes, scrapes,
while and(low energy consumption
all lighting
plinthos pavilion
added we wanted
to the tocomposition
explore theseforsame the movement
a higher level of of these breaks.
fittings andThetransmits
visitor itlistened
to LED)toand
rubber ceiling membrane were re-
characteristics and add another quality transpar- a computer. The computer transforms the visual installed in another building.
performative synthesis. Specialized flex sensors these events as snapshots of the structures
ency, something that is normally not associated with signal into frequencies and finally translates them
clay brick. 21816 embedded
bricks are used within
to build the lightinginto
a continu- objects
a visualso embryonic
and audio installation. state
Each of theand
stem explored and reacted to
ous floor andas to allow
walls. Usuallythe system
hidden to perceive
perforated changes
sides light fittingswith the space
triggers a distinctive as itofreacted
interplay sounds to the visitors engage-
of the bricks haptics
are exposed
andthus creating
object permeable
movement. Therecorded
amountfrom of the pavilionment construction phase and
and behavior. And Plinthos integrated yet
surface, which allow the flow of air, light and sound. affect the color changing lighting performance. This
motion defined the aggressivenessgenerates of the sound another ubiquitous
layering of interweaving media reactions layer into its technologi-
pressure and the processed texture thatapplied.
engulfs the visitor fromcal multiple
capabilities. Used
directions andas a medium to distort,
let him/her become the performer and the observer
at the same time.
Diagram of

axonometric diagram

axonometric diagram
plan diagram
plan diagram


enhance, or provoke perception and commu- Thus, Plinthos speculated on the possibilities for
nication, air fans positioned at specific hidden an architecture consisting of layers of sensory
locations on the exterior of the environment perception and provided a unique meditative
were automated using proximity sensors. and affective environment for the provocation
Reflecting on the aforementioned technolog- of feelings, senses, and desires. Plinthos bound
ical abilities of Plinthos, one could easily assume the tactile emotion of the rough brick surface, a
that this installation became a manifestation memory of ancient construction, to new technol-
of multiple disciplinary practices, synthesized ogies that stimulate the sense of times passing,
through a high degree of sophistication for the in short relating the past to the future.
sake of producing a memorable experience.
Media and technology became fundamental
criteria in the design of a sensate space, in this
case allowing the physical structure to interact
at numerous levels with the human subjects.

above: Pavilion
entrance at night
left: Behind-the-
scenes lighting

Ruairi Glynn and Alma-nac

Delivered in response to the theme of No.8@ varying speeds within the six-story atrium. Each
Arups 2014 competition, BALLS! is a data- ball is manipulated by its own robotic winches, all
responsive intervention in the dynamic rela- controlled by an open-source bespoke software
tionship of control between buildings and their that can convert input data into movement,
inhabitants. It presents an open-source platform, color, and form. The winches run on a wired
which allows inhabitants of the building, both as DMX system while the LEDs within the balls
individuals and groups, to program and control are controlled via wireless DMX. The winches
the installation. The project allows inhabitants of needed to be customized to allow enough verti-
the office environment to take more control of cal movement for them to be seen from any floor.
their buildings behavior and stimulate unex- They were pre-fixed to trusses on-site, tested,
pected interactions and creative outcomes. given a DMX address, then moved into position.
BALLS! is an array of forty-two suspended The whole installation and programming was
glowing spheres in a six-by-seven-foot (1.8 by completed within forty-eight hours, as specified
2.1 m) grid that can individually rise and fall at by the competition brief.

drawing of BALLS!
in context

The design team, which included six Arup wave, which increased in amplitude with the noise
departments, was led by the rigging company. level (passive interaction). The color was set to
For the first half of the installation, it programmed respond to the time (curated interaction), moving
the installation to showcase its capability and from blue to red over the course of a day. The
begin a conversation about the relationship contact microphones responded to the balus-
between buildings and their users. The inten- trade being tapped (active interaction), send-
tion was to show three modes of interaction: ing a ripple of white light through all the balls.
curated, where the installation is unaffected by For the latter fortnight and following a series
occupants behavior; passive, where occupants of workshops, curation of the installation was
passively affect the installation; and active, where handed over to the buildings users, allowing the
occupants actively engage with the installation. project to evolve into a more direct feedback loop
A microphone was set up in the atrium alongside between the inhabitants and their environment.
contact microphones on the balustrades. The BALLS! is driven by enabling an open plat-
balls were programmed to move around a sine form for behavior development. The code driving

the behavior of BALLS! was made available to those not able to code. These workshops allowed
all the inhabitants of Arup headquarters. Built people to feed their ideas to the design team and
upon the open-source programming language take an active role in modifying and improving
Processing, access to the tools required to the behavior of the system to reflect their daily
manipulate and test code could be downloaded experiences of it. Described in brief below are a
for free along with detailed documentation.5 few examples wherein codes were produced that
Lunchtime workshop sessions were held for eventually served as data for the behavior.
Arups staff and the design team to develop novel Puppeteer: Using a Leap Motion sensor,
applications for BALLS! The staff, primarily made which tracks hands and fingers held above it,
up of engineers, was a captive audience for the people could take control of the shape and height
projects technical appeal, but many participants of the balls intuitively with simple hand gestures.
came from administrative and facilities positions. An uncanny sensing of transmission, translation,
Students of the Interactive Architecture Lab at and amplification was felt as small movements
the Bartlett School of Architecture supported were projected onto the five-story installation.

Views of
the overall
installed in
the atrium of
Arups office

Sensor Grid: Combining with the Smart

Citizen open-source platform, environmental
sensor data from within Arups building was
recorded and transmitted into the atrium as an
enormous 3-D scatter graph, allowing inhab-
itants to see how the data changed over the
course of a day.
World Cup: Installed over the course of the
2014 World Cup, one particularly obsessive
football fan chose to represent the flags of the
nations participating in line with the schedule
of matches.

Bespoke software
for controlling data

Diagram of variable

diagrams of

rendering of
balls in the work

The installation
under construction

Diagrams of

Exterior view of

Asif Khan Ltd.

MegaFaces was an experimental architectural mobile-telecom networks and general partner

installation. It comprised a large-scale kinet- of the Sochi Olympics.
ic-volumetric LED display, supported by a bank The client wanted to make an emotional
of automated 3-D scanning photo booths, an connection with its 68 million subscribers, the
automated 3-D scan meshing system, a tablet Russian public, and the global audience of the
app that used QR-code cards, an SMS noti- Olympics. The practices design was a building
fication system, an automated 3-D modeling that could physically transform to take on the
and lighting algorithm, a Web portal, a vid- appearance of the people visiting it: a Mount
eo-streaming service, and a pavilion at the Rushmore for the digital age. Each element of
Sochi Olympic Park, which contained it all and the installation was conceived, designed, and
hosted the 150,000 people that participated developed specifically for this project. The
in its first incarnation. It was commissioned LED volumetric-kinetic display is a world first.
through an invitation-only architectural com- The project was completed 377 days after
petition by MegaFon, one of Russias largest conception.

Facade detail

View of installation
in the context of
the public plaza

For thousands of years, people have used data using individual QR-code cards, issued to
portraiture to record their history on the land- each participant through a registration app, and
scape and buildings and through public art. We enables participants names to be displayed
are a long way from the days of Mount Rushmore within and in front of the pavilion on screens,
and the epic figurative sculptures of Soviet art- which also indicate the exact time the visitors
ists such as Vera Mukhina, yet these monumental face will be appearing. The system also sends an
depictions of our heroeswhether presidents SMS message to participants, relaying this infor-
or the aspirational everymanremain captivat- mation as well as a permalink to a live stream of
ing to us. Today the Internet is how we record their respective avatars appearing on the build-
our history. Emoticons, seles, Facebook, and ing. This allowed scanned participants across
FaceTime are just a few of the universal tools Russia who were without tickets to be part of
for communicating, and the face persists as the Olympic history; their avatars were present even
prevalent shorthand for emotion in these new if they were not able to be at the park in person.
mediums. Asif Khan Ltd.s interest was in creating Their selfie videos were shared over two million
a monument to celebrate people regardless of times on social-networking sites. The resultant
their status as athletes or spectators, or their portraits appeared on the side of the building,
age, nationality, sexuality, or gender. three at a time, at eight meters talla magni-
Formed by eleven thousand actuators, the fication of 3,500 percentlarger, in fact, than
volumetric-kinetic facade of MegaFaces trans- the Statue of Libertys face. More than 150,000
formed in three dimensions to re-create visitors giant selfies, of people from 106 countries, were
faces on a monumental scale. Facial impressions shown over the course of the Sochi 2014 Winter
are relayed to the facade from proprietary instant Olympic Games.
3-D photo booths, which traveled across twelve With MegaFaces, Asif Khan Ltd. effectively
Russian cities before arriving at the Olympic created the worlds first three-dimensionally
Games and getting installed within the building. actuated large-scale LED screen. The kinetic
An electronic queuing system manages the face facade measures 59 feet (18 m) wide by 26 feet

above and top: above and
Details of facade opposite: Views
of facade showing
resolution from a

(8 m) high and consists of eleven thousand recognition of each portrait, a scaling and posi-
telescopic actuators, each with 120 internal tioning algorithm was developed that transforms
components, arranged in a trigonal grid. Each the faces on the fly by considering daylighting,
actuator carries at its tip a translucent sphere scale, rotation, form, and additional color.
that is a high-power RGB LED lamp. The actua-
tors are connected in a bidirectional system that
makes it possible to control each one individually
and at the same time report back to the system
its exact position. Each actuator acts as one pixel
within the entire facade and can be extended
by up to eight feet (2.4 m) as part of a three-di-
mensional shape or change color dynamically as
part of an image or video that is simultaneously
displayed on the facade. To maximize facial

Definition: acting through an intervening agency
Related words: equidistant; inmost, inner, betwixt and between,
borderline, gray (also grey), in-between
Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. mediate, accessed March 25, 2015,

90 AL BAHAR TOWERS / Abdulmajid Karanouh, Aedas Architects

98 KFW WESTARKADE TOWER / Sauerbruch Hutton
106 ECO-29 / FoxLin and Brahma Architects
114 SMART HIGHWAY / Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure

Mediation in this context refers strong wind at the top of a building. Higher winds
to the people within a building and the exterior combined with moisture can be very troublesome in
environment, both of which are in a state of constant living units and particularly in office environments.
flux. The Roman architect Vitruvius, in his treatise Furthermore, glass curtain walls are terrible
on architecture, De architectura, asserted that there insulators, yet so often buildings are wrapped with
were three principles of good architecture: firmitas them in complete disregard for the sun and wind.
(durability; it should stand up robustly and remain Thankfully, there has very recently been a
in good condition); utilitas (utility; it should be wealth of innovation and experimentation with
useful and function well for the people using it); and intelligent building facades. These facades have
venustas (beauty; it should delight people and raise been incorporated into the real world in a very
their spirits). Inherent to each of these principles short period of time, primarily owing to the fact
is the mediation of the people within the space that rethinking the building facade as a mediator
and the exterior environment. Of course, the idea both saves money and makes better spaces. With
of a building facade that can mediate the changes everything from kinetic panels that breathe and
in human and environmental conditions is as old titanium dioxidecovered walls that scrub the air
as the first hinged window. Interestingly, prior to of pollutants to microalgae that work as bioreactors
the curtain wall and air-conditioning, most tall inside panels, facades are clearly the single largest
buildings were not wider than thirty to forty feet (9 area of innovation in adaptive buildings. Whole
to 12 m), and they were well lit with daylight and books have indeed been published on the matter;
cross-ventilated. More often than not, however, here we select a few pioneering projects from
todays architectural solutions tend to shut out the the field. In the Al Bahar Towers, by Abdulmajid
exterior environment completely and accommodate Karanouh of Aedas Architects, we find the classic
humans by means of artificial lighting and heating glass curtain wall placed in the extreme desert of
or cooling. Without air-conditioning, inoperable Abu Dhabi. The innovative means by which this
windows and a glass curtain wall would render a projects mediating architectural boundary translates
tall building uninhabitable. Anyone who has been into a dynamic, adaptive facade are truly an object
inside a car left to sit in the sun on a hot summer day of delight. The faceted fiberglass rosettes, which
understands that without the ability to dump excess hinge on the cultural significance of the traditional
heat, an internal environment quickly becomes Islamic mashrabiya, are not placed all around the
hotter than the outdoors. It should be noted that buildings, but rather only where they are required
operable windows on very tall buildings often do not to be; and they preserve the views for the people
make practical sense, as wind speed increases with inside while dynamically blocking the direct glare
altitude such that a small breeze on the ground is a of light. The buildings skins change throughout the

day, analogous to that of a living plant, adapting constantly changing needs. Eco-29 by FoxLin
poetically to cultural and environmental forces. and Brahma Architects is a physically morphing,
The KfW Westarkade Tower, by Sauerbruch spatially adaptable wedding hall and event space
Hutton, takes a holistic approach to mediating the that stands as one of the largest spatially kinetic
environment. The result is like an aircraft, where environments of its kind. The architects motivation
the necessary and appropriate response to all of the for creating the design lies in mediating between
forces reconciles itself to a performalism of beauty. the outside environment and the dynamic spatial
The overall form is streamlined to both integrate layouts that exist sequentially in the context of a
itself into its context and exploit the prevailing winds wedding ceremony. Natural analogies were studied
for natural ventilation. In the KfW Westarkade to find a soft approach to the architecture, resulting
Tower, we see the buildings skin and the structure in a concept that comprised a fabric skin kinetically
as a whole responding to the urban, architectural, morphing within the rigid confines of the building
environmental, and human conditions.The through the use of computer-controlled motors. It
high technology of the active building skin has a was required that the space be able to open up as
counterpoint in the atmospheric use of color, which much as possible for other events and that there be a
adds the layer of chromatic variation as one moves stage at one end of the building and an open garden
along the street. at the other. In effect, the space had to have absolute
If we take a cue from Sauerbruch Huttons three-dimensional flexibility.
holistic approach, we realize that there is great Smart Highway, by Studio Roosegaarde and
potential for adaptive architecture when one Heijmans Infrastructure, takes a far different
understands what a space currently does and how approach to a mediating interactive environment.
that space can aid in promoting or accommodating This projects smart roads use light, energy, and road
a specific change. This kind of spatial optimization signs that interact with the traffic situation. Daan
can be defined pragmatically as a means for adjusting Roosegaarde is an artist, working in this case with an
three-dimensional configurations according to the infrastructural company that shares his studios goals
changing situations of both users and programmatic of sustainability, safety, and perception; together they
considerations. The development of a system that carried out several innovative applications of energy
can accommodate spatial adaptability requires that and light. In past discussions of smart highways,
optimization scenarios be analyzed both physically the focus has typically been on the car. Here the
and organizationally. In architecture, kinetics innovative point is that the roads themselves, not
implies relationships of cause and effect. To be able the cars, are what take on the intelligence. The
to design such a space requires an exploration of highway is a work in progress, and the idea is that it
the dynamics of the users, the flexible possibilities repositions the role of designers in thinking about
for responding to those dynamics, and the the possibilities of the environment itself, not just the
adaptability of the architectural environment to objects in the environment, mediating architectural
undetermined changes. One way to begin is by boundaries at a very large scale.
rethinking architecture in terms other than those
of conventional static and single-function spatial
design, by emphasizing the dynamic configuration
of physical space with respect to a range of

Abdulmajid Karanouh, Aedas Architects

When in search of innovative designs for and algorithms to facilitate their approach, which
skyscrapers, nature and culture are the most allowed them to refine the design concept via
persistent sources of inspiration. The Al Bahar computer programs without sacrificing the ambi-
Towers draw from both. The implementation of tion of the project.
an advanced detection system was intended to Design teams always face the major chal-
integrate the building with its cultural con- lenge of how to realize a building that, within a
text and respond directly to the needs of the constantly changing environment, provides its
regions climate: the mashrabiya screens, a type users the required comfort in an efficient and
of wooden lattice shading, are anchored in the cost-effective manner. Design decision makers
Islamic architectural tradition of the Middle East, are caught between wanting to comply with
and the dynamic movement of the individual green regulations and receiving the related
units recalls the response of native plants to certifications, on one hand, and implementing
the movement of the sun. The architects used pragmatic and efficient solutions in a relatively
sophisticated techniques of parametric modeling standardized and rigid industry on the other.

Emerging from
the landscape,
the energy-
and structural
driven design
dictates the
organic form and
geometric patterns
of the surrounding
kinetic shading

Details of
mashrabiya facade

Conceptual draw-
ing of tower with
mashrabiya facade

mashrabiya shad-
ing screen

Detailed units
produced in
Digital Project
software by Gehry

Determining the best nonstatic, one-size-fits-all The design brief for the towers was based on the
solution that will perform highly in a dynamic desire to create a building that would represent
context is challenging indeed. In nature we find the ethos of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council
many solutions to similar problems; natural sys- (ADIC), housed in one of the buildings, while
tems are anything but static as they constantly using a contemporary idiom to reflect the under-
adjust and adapt to their changing environment lying cultural tradition of Abu Dhabi. Islamic and
from day to night and season to season. Natural regional architecture, sustainable technology,
systems were a major inspiration for the concept and inspiration from nature form the triangular
design of the case study presented here, which foundation of the design concept for the ADIC
incorporates a novel, smart-adaptive solar screen towers. For centuries, traditional Middle Eastern
that follows the movement of the sun. architecture has been known for its sustainable
Over the past two decades, naked glass has elements, including wind catchers, solar screens,
come to dominate the majority of the build- cooling courtyards, ventilated domes, subtrac-
ing facades of both general and iconic office tive self-shading geometries (e.g., muqarnas),
towers, particularly in the Persian Gulf region. and many others. These features help pro-
They have in turn become the norm in terms vide comfortable spaces in extreme weather
of clients and users expectations, sponsored conditions and temperatures reaching up to 122
and encouraged mainly by local governments. It degrees Fahrenheit (50C) and humidity of up to
will take some time, therefore, to reeducate the 100 percent. Carefully avoiding the mockery of
market and reorient expectations accordingly. traditional styles or direct mimicry of natural sys-
The Aedas design team viewed the introduction tems, the design aims to recapture some of the
of the dynamic mashrabiya screen as a step sustainable features used in the past and derives
away from completely naked glass facades and bio-inspired methodologies to enhance the build-
toward rethinking this devotion to the transpar- ings performance. The power of the concept is
ent, which the authorities in Abu Dhabi are now in the computational algorithm, which merges
showing encouraging signs of doing. the various design principles and translates them





01 & 05



Dynamic Mashrabiya Unit Main Components Single unit in the

Scientific and
01 Actuator + Power & Control; cable connection back to the tower Technical Centre
02 Strut sleeves; penetrates the curtain wall & connects to the main structure for Building (CSTB)
03 Supporting Cantilever Struts; hooks on the sleeves wind tunnel in
04 Star pin-connection; receives the unitized Y-arms ends Nantes, France
05 Actuator Casing; protects the actuator
06 Y-Structure Ring-Hub; joins the Y-arms and actuator together
07 Y-Structure Sleeves; connect the Y-arms to the hub
08 Y-Structure Arms; support the whole mechanism
09 Y-Node Pin-Connection; pins to the star connection
10 Y-Mobile Tripod; drives and supports the fabric mesh frames Single unit being
11 Actuator Head Pin-Connection; pin to the mobile tripod prepared for
12 Stabilizer; takes the loads to the hub releasing the actuator shear forces durability cycling
13 Slider; allows the mobile tripod to travel along the Y-arms test in Basel,
14 Fabric Mesh Frame & Sub-Frame; supporting the fabric mesh Switzerland
15 Fabric Mesh

Bespoke Java
control program,
simulating the
motion of the sun
and the reaction of
the shading screen

Section drawing of
shading screen and
tower interior

Sample diagrams
from the 560-
page Geometry
& Performance
Manual developed
for the towers

Detail of the
mashrabiya units

into a performance-oriented form and integrated volume-to-envelope ratio and natural-lighting

mechanized system able to adjust and adapt to distribution while minimizing wind-load impact
the changing environment. on the building skin and infrastructure. The main
The geometric composition of the buildings structure is composed of a honeycomb forma-
consists of the intersection of infinite arrange- tion, uniquely applied to the towers to provide
ments and populations of circles (2-D) and a highly efficient and redundant structure. The
spheres (3-D), which in turn generate infinite envelope comprises a series of smart, folding
arrangements of nodes that, when connected, kinetic shading components that act as a screen-
follow a mathematical logic that produces ing layer to the weathering glass skin, protecting
familiar Islamic patterns and forms. The floor the building from excessive solar gain.
plates and vertical profile of each tower are A relatively clear glass curtain wall forms
made of tangential arcs that also adhere to the weather-tight layer of the towers skin. A
specially devised mathematical rules, resulting secondary layer comprises intelligent, automated
in an intelligent, fluid form that maximizes the shading componentsopening and closing via

The mashrabiya
units are designed
to respond to
weather changes
in the manner of a
planet reacting to
the environment

centrally located linear actuatorslinked to a subdivided into six triangular flat frames that fold
computerized control system that follows the like an umbrella at various angles, providing fins
suns path. The shading screen acts as a dynamic and louverlike geometries in various directions
mashrabiya; it reduces solar gain and glare while and positions. The design concept was inspired
improving visibility by avoiding dark tinted glass by natural adaptive systems like leaves, flowers,
and blinds, which distort the surrounding view. and skin spikes that open and close in response
This intelligent system better distributes natural to the environmentin particular, to the sun. The
diffused light, optimizes the use of artificial flexible, smart folding geometry was carefully
lighting through dimmers linked to sensors, and worked out to overcome the limitations of tradi-
reduces air-cooling loads, ultimately helping tional vertical and horizontal louvers, especially
to reduce overall energy consumption, carbon as applied to geometrically complex buildings.
emission, and mechanical room size. There are 1,049 units fitted to each of the towers,
The dynamic mashrabiya is a unique kinetic covering the east, south, and west zones, leaving
shading system that comprises triangular units exposed the north face, which has no exposure to

Mashrabiya units
at unfold, midfold,
and maximum-fold

direct sunlight. When a facade zone is subjected simulated the path of the sun and the kinematics
to direct sunlight, the mashrabiya units in that and reaction of the shading units. A Siemens
zone deploy into their unfolded, or closed, state, control system was utilized to program the
providing shade to the inner glazing skin. As the actuators stroking distances and operation-time
sun moves around the building, each mashrabiya durations. The key benefits of the responsive
unit progressively opens. facade are the many advantages to the users of
The Y-structure arms support the entire providing the following improvements in their
mechanism and translate the forces from the working environment: better naturally lit spaces,
supporting cantilever struts to the strut sleeves, better external natural views, fewer obstructive
which protrude from the curtain wall and back to blinds, improved comfort by reducing air-condi-
the main structure of the towers. The mecha- tioner flow and drag, and a unique, entertaining
nism is driven by a centrally located, electric feature. In addition to these advantages, the
screw-jack linear actuator designed to perform mashrabiya system provides the following ben-
in aggressive, sandy environments. The actuator efits to the whole building: 20 percent energy
stroke reaches up to one thousand millimeters, saving (up to 40 percent to the offices), a 20
folding the mechanism and providing up to 85 percent reduction in carbon emission, a 15 per-
percent open area. Electrical outlets at each cent reduction in plant capital cost, and a LEED
floor power the actuators and controllers. Data Silver certification.
transmission from the control room. received The dynamic mashrabiya solar screen of the
by actuators, travels via a dedicated ethernet Al Bahar Towers may represent a new bench-
to PLC controllers using supervisory control mark in the field of adaptive building systems.
and data acquisition (SCADA) protocols. To Just as with other technologies, the more popu-
provide a tidy and simple approach, the routing lar and common this system becomes, the more
of data and power cables to the actuator is its reliability and affordability will increase. The
concealed inside the struts and Y-structure design-to-delivery process described may also
arms. The Aedas research and development offer a roadmap for developing novel solutions
team initially collaborated to produce a bespoke that promote sustainability in a more genuine
program using a Java stand-alone applet, which and effective manner.

Sauerbruch Hutton

The KfW Westarkade is a prototypical ecological out of KfW Banking Groups formerly disparate
building and one of the greenest office struc- office buildings from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.
tures in the world. It plays a pivotal role in the A new four-story low-rise clearly delineates
struggle against climate change and for conser- the edge of Zeppelinallee, a much-traveled
vation of resourcestwo of the most important arterial road that leads north and provides the
social concerns of our time. The apparent ease Westarkade with both entrance and address. A
of the aerodynamic form and its understated streamlined fourteen-story structure emerges
elegance belie the complexity of the buildings from this low-rise, standing between the busy
strategy for resolving multiple urban conditions street and the cluster of towers from the 1970s,
and implementing advanced environmental which are located at the center of the site and
solutions. house the executive offices. The figure of the
Located in Frankfurt, Germanys West End new high-rise is specifically designed both to
and bordering the central Palmengarten Park, maintain the views from the towers and allow
the Westarkade creates a unified composition them to remain visible from the street, while at

left and opposite:
Various views of
the exterior facade
with changing

the same time accommodating a considerable terms, the buildings annual primary energy
building mass on the site. To the south, the new demand is pared down to less than a hundred
low-rise combines with the main building and kilowatt-hours per square meter, which is
the neighboring Nordarkade to form a com- considerably less than what is used by conven-
munal courtyard. This extends the adjacent tionally built office blocks. This goal was attained
Palmengarten for a coherent open space that through a precise combination of measures
flows into the organically shaped foyer of the that emerged from truly innovative planning
Westarkade and recharacterizes the existing and design as well as from the architectural
buildings in the complex. and engineering teams strictly interdisciplinary
The KfW Westarkade is a tangible ecological methodnot to mention the consistently high
example of how a high level of comfort can be aspirations of the client.
achieved for some seven hundred employees From the outside this ecological approach
in a thoroughly sustainable way while reducing is epitomized by the aerodynamic form of the
energy expenditure to a minimum. In concrete tower, oriented toward the predominant wind


The outer layer wraps around the building with above: Isometric
drawing of tower
a zigzag profile, its wide areas of transparent and urban context
glazing alternating with narrow ventilation flaps.
Largely aligned to face the prevailing wind, these left: Performative
qualities of the
flaps automatically open and close according to pressure ring
external conditions, so that both temperature in plan
and pressure remain as consistent as possible offices for the kfw banking group, frankfurt
KFW 40 isometric with context

in the interstitial space. On summer days, the

facade can also be opened all around to prevent
overheating, while integral blinds within the
sauerbruch hutton lehrterstrasse 57, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30 39 78 21 - 0

buffer space provide each office with individually

controlled solar protection.
Using this system of protected opening
windows, the offices are naturally ventilated for
eight months of the year, with minimal depen-
dence on outside conditions and without drafts
or unwanted heat loss. When outside tempera-
tures rise above 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25C)
or fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10C), a
mechanical ventilation system supplies clean,
fresh air, drawn in from the Palmengarten and
direction and by the unique double-layered, pre-tempered in an underground geothermal
wind-pressurized facade. This active facade has heat-exchange duct before entering the offices.
a precisely defined function in the climate con- The deep floor plans of the high-rise were
cept of the whole structure, combining performa- conceived to offer flexibility in configuration as
tive, technological, urban-spatial, tectonic, and well as comfortable and enjoyable office and cir-
atmospheric considerations into aoffices singleforcon- culation
the kfw banking spaces. Single, double, and group offices
group, frankfurt
structed form. The skin is made verwaltung fr layers:
up of two die kfw bankengruppe,
all havefrankfurt
generous views of the surroundings and
KFW_38_pressureRing_facade / Druckringfassade
the double-glazed facade of the offices, with the Frankfurt skyline; each is accessed from the
normal, operable windows, is enclosed within a curved and diversified spaces of the corridors.
second single layer of glazing and an air buffer These corridors are designed with exterior
asse 57, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30 39 78 21 - 0 Sauerbruch Hutton
between the two layers. This creates a pressure windows for light, orientation, and view, but they
ring around the inner windows, protecting them also receive natural lighting via the floor-to-
from turbulent weather conditions that other- ceiling glass doors of the offices. The circulation
wise prevent their being opened at such heights. cores are placed at the center of the plan and


offices for the kfw banking group, frankfurt

0 10 20m verwaltung fr die kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt
KFW 20_ ground floor / erdgeschoss

sauerbruch hutton lehrter strasse 57, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30 39 78 21 - 0

Overall massing
diagrams in
offices for10
the kfw banking 20m
group, frankfurt
response to offices for the kfw banking group, frankf
0 verwaltung fr die kfw bankengruppe, frankf
10 20m verwaltung fr die kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt neighborhood KFW 21_ first floor / 1.obergesch
KFW 20_ ground floor / erdgeschoss
sauerbruch hutton lehrter strasse 57, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30 39 78 21
sauerbruch hutton lehrter strasse 57, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30 39 78 21 - 0

office building for kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt

102 INTERACTIVE ARCHITECTURE verwaltungsgebude der kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt
KFW_30a _context / kontext
top row from far
left to right:
Site plan of ground
floow showing
context; plans of
the first, third, and
high-rise floors
in response to
both built and

Elevation showing Elevation showing Elevation showing

spring and fall 6
summer ventilation winter ventilation
offices for the kfw banking group, frankfurt offices for the kfw banking grou
0 10 20m
ventilation 0 verwaltung
10 fr die kfw bankengruppe,
20m frankfurt verwaltung fr die kfw bankengrupp
KFW_22_ third floor / 3.obergeschoss KFW_23 typical high-rise floor / regelgeschos
5 5

sauerbruch hutton lehrter strasse 57, 10557 berlin sauerbruch hutton tel + 49 (0)lehrter strasse
30 39 78 21 - 057, 10557 berlin tel + 49 (0) 30


3 2 3 2

e areas / 1 1

mechanical ventilation
mechanical ventilation of of core
core areas
areas / 1 incoming air from Palmengarten 1 incoming cold air from Palmengarten
ble windowa mechanische lftung der kernzonen 2 geothermal heat exchanger 2 geothermal heat exchanger
3 HVAC centre 3 HVAC centre
uell ffenbare
4 incoming air through raised floor 4 incoming air through raised floor
natural ventilation via manually 5 heat recovery 5 heat recovery
natural ventilation
operated windows via openable windowa
ventilation of core areas / 6 exhaust air1 shaft using
incoming stratification
cold air from Palmengarten / kalte Zuluft vom Palmengarten
ventilation of coreber
natrliche Luftung areas
manuell ffenbare 2 geothermal heat exchanger / Erdwrmekanal
1 incoming air from Palmengarten / Zuluft vom Palmengarten
Fenster 2 geothermal heat exchanger / Erdwrmekanal 3 HVAC centre / RLT Zentrale
3 HVAC centre / RLT Zentrale 4 incoming air through raised floor / Zuluft ber Druckbden
4 incoming air through raised floor / Zuluft ber Druckbden 5 heat recovery / Wrmerckgewinnung
5 heat recovery / Wrmerckgewinnung

6 exhaust air shaft using stratification / Abluftkamin mit natrlicher Konvektion
Details of facade

terminate, where the corridor widens, in commu- more neutral scheme and materiality of the com-
nal spaces such as meeting points, conference panys recently renovated central towers.
rooms, mailrooms, and small kitchens. When viewed from the northeast, the build-
At street level, a pedestrians every few steps ing appears transparent and monochromatic,
bring a change in the buildings appearance. because the colored ventilation flaps are strictly
Both the form of the building and the expression oriented to the prevailing southwesterly winds.
of its outer skin alter as the high-rise mediates Conversely, standing on the street in front of
between various city spaces: viewed from the the Westarkade and looking up at the southern
intersection of Bockenheimer Landstrasse and edge of the high-rise, a myriad of reds and blues
Senkenberganlage, it appears as a tall, narrow accelerate toward the upwardly thrusting point
tower creating a significant visible accent; from of the tower. The optical transformations that
the north, along Zeppelinallee or Sophienstrasse, arise from the interplay of the Westarkades
the wide, curved form creates an elegant coun- streamlined form with its zigzag skin and chro-
terpoint to the flow of traffic; and from the park matically varied facade are a direct expression of
areas of the Palmengarten, the building provides the buildings sustainable energy concept. They
a discreet shimmering backdrop. So within a are particularly visible on the wide, curved side
short journey, KfW Westarkade can be experi- of the high-rise, with its flowing changes of color,
enced in a number of ways: as a neutral, slender as well as on those parts of the building seen
glass volume; as a convex taut skin; and as a wall obliquely. Form, color, and material combine in
of pure color. Color has been applied to the outer the KfW Westarkade to bring diversity and stim-
facade on the narrow ventilation flaps in three ulation to the urban space and enrich everyday
families, each of which addresses a different city city life.
space: green tones front the Palmengarten; red
hues of the main sandstone prevalent in urban
Frankfurt are interpreted along Zeppelinallee;
and a group of blues and grays complement the


Section diagram
of performative
qualities of the
buildings office

7 8


5 10 3 4 6

1 fresh air supply

2 air vent
3 central heating lines
4 central cooling lines
5 air vents or underfloor convectors on every second axis
6 thermoactive building components
7 sound-attenuating air overflow
8 central exhaust
1 fresh air supply / Frischluft
9 vertical exhaust shaft using natural stratification Architectural
2 air vent / 10 underfloor electrical outlet
Lftungsklappe diagram of facade
3 central heating lines / Ringleitung Heizung details
4 central cooling lines / Ringleitung Klte
5 air vents or underfloor convectors in every second axis / Luftauslass bzw. Bodenkonvektor in jeder zweiten Achse
6 thermo-active building components / Bauteilaktivierung
7 sound-attenuating air overflow / akustisch gedmmtes berstrmelement
8 central exhaust / Abluftansaugung an zentralen Stellen
1 1 1 1
9 vertical exhaust shaft using natural stratification / vertikaler Abluftschacht mit natrlicher Konvektion
2 2 2 2
10 underfloor electrical outlet / Bodentank 3 3 3 3

3 3 3 3

4 8 4 4 4
8 8 8

5 5 5
5 5 office building for kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt 5 5 5

verwaltungsgebude der kfw bankengruppe, frankfurt
4 4 4

5 5 5 5

KFW_34_office_ventilation / brolftung
9 9 9 9

6 6 6 6

sauerbruch hutton 7 7 7 7 7
lehrter strasse 57 D - 10557 berlin tel +49 (0) 30 39 78 21-0 Sauerbruch Hutton 7 7 7

1 traversable aluminium sheeting above, steel sheeting for fire protection below
2 insulation covered by perforated aluminium sheeting
3 solar protection: blinds with light-redirection feature
4 secondary facade: single-sheet safety glazing
5 1 traversable
1 traversable aluminium
1 traversable
above, sheeting
sheeting forsteel
fire steel for
protection fire
forprotection below
fire protection
is an operable window
below 1 Horizontalschott:
1 Horizontalschott: begehbaresoben
1 Horizontalschott:
oben begehbares
oben Noppenblech,
Noppenblech, unten Noppenblech,
Stahlblech unten Stahlblech
unten als Brandschutz
als Brandschutz als Brandschutz
2 insulation covered insulation
2by underfloor
perforated covered
aluminium convector
by perforated
by perforated
sheeting aluminium
aluminium or air exhaust
sheeting 2 Aluminiumlochblech
2 Aluminiumlochblech 2 Aluminiumlochblech mit akustischer Bedmpfung
mit akustischer
mit akustischer Bedmpfung Bedmpfung
3 blinds
3 solar protection: solar protection:
3 solar
with blinds
protection: withwith
light-redirection light-redirection feature
feature feature 3 Sonnenschutz:3Lichtlenklamelle
Sonnenschutz: Lichtlenklamelle
3 Sonnenschutz: Lichtlenklamelle
4 secondary faade: secondary
4 parapet:
safety sandwich
glazing safety glazing
safety with exterior acoustic insulation and
glazing interior
4 Sekundrfassade: 4thermal
4 Sekundrfassade:
ESG Scheiben ESG
ESG Scheiben

8 56 second
5 main
5 main faade: every
6 underfloor
6 underfloor convector
or air exhaust
every second
an operable
or airorexhaust
air exhaust
is anisoperable window
an operable
window 5 Primrfassade 5(Klimahlle):
6 Unterflurkonvektor
5 Primrfassade
6 Unterflurkonvektor
(Klimahlle): mit Isolierverglasung
mit Dreh-Kippfenster
(abwechselnd) (abwechselnd)
2. Achse) (jede(jede
Isolierverglasung 2. Achse)
2. Achse)

7 parapet: sandwich parapet:
exterior sandwichwithwith
acoustic panel
exterior acoustic
insulation and on
interior every
thermal and second
interior thermal
interior thermalmodule
insulation to allow for7 Brstungspaneel:
summer7 Brstungspaneel:
7 Brstungspaneel:
auen auen
Bedmpfung, acoustic
akustische Bedmpfung,
innen Bedmpfung,
Wrmedmmung insulation
innen Wrmedmmung
innen Wrmedmmung
8 acoustic
8 fixed panel with fixed panel
8 fixed withwith
panel acoustic
insulation insulation
acoustic insulation 8 feststehendes 8Paneel,
feststehendes Paneel,
8 feststehendes innen
innen akustisch akustisch
bedmpft bedmpft
akustisch bedmpft
9 ventilation
9 ventilation panel 9 every
on panel
second on every
module tosecond
on every
allow module
for to allow
summer for summer
to allow
cooling, interior cooling,
for summer interior
acoustic acoustic
insulation insulation
acoustic insulation 9 Klappe zur
9 Klappe
9 Klappe zur sommerlichen sommerlichen Entwrmung,
zur sommerlichen
Entwrmung, innen innen
akustisch akustisch
bedmpft 2.bedmpft
(jede (jede(jede
Achse) 2. Achse)
2. Achse)

105 MEDIATE offices

offices for the kfw for the
offices kfw kfw
for the
bankengruppe, bankengruppe,
frankfurt fra
verwaltung fr verwaltung fr die
die verwaltung fr kfw
kfw bankengruppe, bankengruppe,
die kfw bankengruppe
frankfurt fra
KFW_40_details_facade / fassadedetails/ fassade
KFW_40_details_facade / fass

sauerbruch hutton hutton
sauerbruch lehrterstrasse
hutton 57,
lehrterstrasse berlin57, 10557
10557 berlin
10557 tel78
tel + 49 (0) 30 39 +
0 30
-49 (0)39
0 - 0Hutton
Sauerbruch Sauerbruch Hutton
Sauerbruch Hutto
FoxLin and Brahma Architects

Arguably, the most innovative designs utilizing ceremony was established, the concept was then
kinetics arise from the need for site-specific, sit- diagrammed to show how it could accommodate
uational use, and it is this use that acts as a driv- a number of spatial scenarios. For events such
ing force in the changing and evolving patterns as a pop-up market or corporate product launch,
of human interaction with the built environment. the space would need to be opened up as much
Initially, Eco-29 began as an exercise in creating as possible, and there would have to be a stage
a space that could change very rapidly to at one end of the building and an open garden at
accommodate a variety of layouts and scenarios the other. In effect, the space would have to have
inherent to the context of a wedding ceremony. absolute three-dimensional flexibility.
The notion quickly arose that the building, The solution was to have mechanized walls
located in Israel, would be capable of physically and ceiling, and it was thus decided that cladding
encouraging hundreds of people to move around the entire space in a moveable fabric would
the space. After several weddings were attended provide the most effective means of realizing
and the sequencing of space throughout the that solution. A number of conceptual renderings


Exterior and
interior views of
the kinetic space

were then developed in order to understand the At this point, it was decided that there would
aesthetic capabilities of the approach. There be a total of fifty motors, each rib having seven
were many obvious advantages to using fabric, motors (five on the rib itself and two on the floor).
including projection, lighting, and the econom- The two ends of the system would be fixed and
ics involved in having a mechanistically simple mounted to rolled steel tubing. Of the five motors
approach. Numerous physical models were on each rib, three would be clustered on one side
created at various scales from fabric that had and two on the other, each cluster positioned
stretch properties proportional to what would be near the top of the building. The two floor motors
used in the actual project. Although it was very would sit under the floor itself. Pulleys would
early on, a specific type of four-way stretch fabric have to be used for the top three attachment
was chosen, providing a valuable design con- points in order to have the lines to the motors
straint. Various schemes for attaching the fabric clear the fabric in a fully extended position.
were devised, and it was decided that a series of Two connections were developed and tested
vertical and horizontal ribs would be used. for the fabric connections, which are not typically

left and opposite:
Views of
construction and
full-scale mock-up

views showing the
dynamic flexibility
of the fabric

subjected to constant dynamic forces. The allowed to telescope on this moving joint, which
connection point to the fabric was a simple knot anchored the fabric.
held by a sphere, developed so as not to pinch There were two major issues in producing
the fabric, and this became a standardized detail the fabric. The first was the aforementioned
at every instance. The floor connections were a curvature, created when unrolling the geometry;
much more challenging task, as the ribs needed the second was the fact that when the diameter
to telescope at the base and change their length of the rib increased, the line of the base in the
up to ten feet (3 m) on each side without losing track moved at a differing angle. In preparation
strength, and they needed to move in a line along for sewing the full fabric, FoxLin had to make
the floor while having free rotation. Numerous several compromises based on the clients desire
designs and prototypes were developed in an to have the fabric perform optimally at the most
effort to solve this detail; in the end a fixed open position. In other words, the fabric could
screw-drive was used in the floor, connecting not sag or crease when fully expanded. It was
to a base for windsurfing boards. The rib was thus calculated that the unstretched fabric


should be sewn at sixty-eight degrees, so that move slowly to avoid running out of torque and
when it would be in the fully stretched position slipping. Some solutions to these issues could
and the base attachments were near the outside be handled from a standpoint of hardware; some
of the building, they would hit the point on the could be handled with software. For instance, the
track that is at forty-five degrees relative to the torque issue mentioned above could be handled
structure of the building. FoxLin also calculated by the software telling the motors to ramp up
a 10 percent pre-stretch of the fabric in the and ramp down along their path, lessening
horizontal (long) dimension and added ten feet the peak loads caused at acceleration and
(3 m) of extra fabric on the short dimension for deceleration.
the telescoping base connection. The software allows the operator to define
Two types of motors were used to address the range of motion, maximum speed, and accel-
the different torque and speed requirements, and eration for each motor, and then choreograph the
custom software was developed to choreograph motors as a percentage of full range. Once each
the overall motion. The motors used were NEMA motor is initialized, the interface of a simple set
42 high torque hybrid stepper motors with a of slider bars allows for easy manipulation of the
six-ampere peak current per phase and a peak variables. The software allows the track motors
line pull of about three hundred pounds (136.1 to turn about six hundred rotations at high
kg) each. For the two motors that were used speed, while the geared motors turn only fifty
to pull the points near the center of the arch, a rotations at modest speed and the nongeared
5-1 worm gearbox and larger-size pulley were spooling motors turn only about twenty rota-
used. The geared motors used a larger pulley to tions. Each driver circuit board controls six
approximate the speed of the nongeared motors. motors. All eight-driver circuit boards share a
The nongeared motors had a peak line pull of single serial data channel. The command format
about 150 pounds (68 kg) with a smaller pulley. includes a two-number address to select which
The drivers were separately powered by 220 circuit board and which motor on the circuit
volts of alternating current and 4 amperes. The board will respond to the command. Commands
motor-spool combinations pulled at a maximum may be sent to all motors at the same time with
speed up to one and a half feet (0.5 m) per sec- a global command. All commands expect units in
ond but were operated at around 10 inches (25 ticks, except velocity and acceleration com-
cm) per second to reduce the load. The available mands, which are measured in ticks per second
motor torque decreases with speed, so the and ticks per second squared. The number of
selection of gearing and spool size was import- ticks per revolution is set with switches on the
ant. The spools had to match the capability of power driver mounted next to the motor. Floor
the motors in that a small spool could pull the motors were to be set to 200 ticks per rotation,
line with significant force, but only very slowly, while the overhead motors were set to either
while a larger spool might require the motor to 1,600 or 3,200 ticks per revolution.


diagram of

Diagram of
motor and point

Additional decisions included the scaling of to reduce sagging between the ribs; although the
the spools from 1 inch to 0.4 inches (2.5 cm to poles at the base were bending, pre-stretching
1 cm) and using a braided line rather than steel was an issue that could be resolved by adjusting
cables on most of the motors; Spectra line is the pulley-point locations in the ceiling. The final
made of ultra-high molecular weight polyeth- construction included many smaller aesthetic
ylene (UHMWPE) fibers that yield very high considerations and was coordinated with projec-
strength and are cut resistant, with much greater tion mapping onto the fabric, acoustic design,
flexibility and one-tenth the weight of steel. and general event lighting.
Although the geared motors have steel cables In general, a project such as this is much
for safety reasons, it was found that the steel more difficult to create than static architecture,
cables are much more problematic in terms of primarily due to the lack of many multidisci-
the connections and wear over time. The only plinary precedents. The process will certainly
major issue with the fabric was that it could be get easier by virtue of the lessons learned
pre-stretched a bit more, to 15 percent, in order on such built projects and the capabilities of


Physical models

Motor pair

the environments they produce. The project

described here begins to map out a world
wealthy in its potential for motion, a world in
which spaces and objects can move and trans-
form to facilitate numerous changing situations,
from the contextual and environmental to the
programmatic. Our capabilities for using kinetics
in architecture today can be extended far beyond
what has to date been possible. Advancement,
however, will only be accomplished when we
address kinetic structures not primarily or
singularly, but as integral components of a larger
architectural system.

Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure

Smart Highway is an inclusive project consisting large scale by innovating the road deck with their
of interactive and sustainable roads devel- application designs: Glow-in-the-Dark Lining,
oped by artist Daan Roosegaarde and builder Dynamic Paint, Electric Priority Lane, Interactive
and developer Heijmans Infrastructure, whose Light, Dynamic Lines, and Wind Light; new
collaboration is an example of true industry. The designs include Induction Priority Lane and Road
design and interactivity of Roosegaarde and the Printer. Their aim was to create smart roads by
specialized knowledge and craftsmanship of using light, energy, and road signs that interact
Heijmans bring together the best of both worlds, with traffic situations. Sustainability, safety, and
fusing into one common goal: the innovation of perception are key to the concept and manifest
the Dutch landscape. in the latest technologies in energy and light and
A lot has been written about intelligent high- in the several custom-made applications behind
ways since the 1980s. Until now, however, the the smart roads.
focus of innovation has been on the car. Studio Glowing Lines is the implementation of a
Roosegaarde and Heijmans tackle this issue on a Glow-in-the-Dark Lining that absorbs energy


left: Glowing Lines

Dynamic Paint

during the day and glows in the dark at night. traffic control adjusts to the situation and
The lining emits light for as long as ten hours. Dynamic Lines facilitate capacity management.
The concept is a safe and sustainable alternative Wind Light is the last of the concepts to be
to conventional lighting for dark roads. They now implemented in the Smart Highway project. For
feature along the N329 highway in the city of this concept, the wind generated by passing cars
Oss, the first road of the future, and the project activates small windmills along the road. The
is planned to launch internationally. windmills generate energy, which is then used
Dynamic Paint is a similar concept of to light the lamps in the windmills. Wind Light
temperature-controlled marking that lights up is an energy-neutral application that makes the
and becomes transparent again depending on contours of the road visible, adding dimension to
the temperature. The marking warns road users the interactive experience of the highway.
when the road deck can be slippery. Drivers Smart Highway has been awarded a Dutch
experience direct interaction with the road deck. Design Award and an Accenture Innovation
The Electric Priority Lane is an induction Award, and it is the winner of the INDEX Award
charging lane that offers electric cars the option 2013. It is an innovative concept for smart roads
to charge while driving. Electric Priority Lanes of tomorrow, a program of innovation that links a
support and stimulate sustainable transportation. different way of looking at things with the oppor-
Interactive Light is interactive lighting that is tunities afforded by new technologies.
controlled by sensors: it only turns on when traf-
fic approaches. It is a sustainable and cost-sav-
ing alternative to continuous lighting. Interactive
lighting can also provide speed guidance.
Dynamic Lines are road-deck markings that
can be adjusted to show a continuous line or a
dotted line. This is a two-part strategy whereby

The Electric
Priority Lane

Interactive Light


Wind Light

Dynamic Paint

Definition: to produce by natural evolutionary processes;
Related words: advance, fare, forge, get along, get on, march,
proceed, progress; blossom, grow, mature, ripen; materialize;
emerge, play out
Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. evolve, accessed March 25, 2015,

123 HYGROSCOPE + HYGROSKIN / Achim Menges, with Steffen Reichert and Oliver David Kreig
140 SHAPESHIFT / Manuel Kretzer

The architect and theoretician John Frazer systems from the standpoint of computational
points out that an architects blueprint is a specific design, the fascinating potential as an integral part of
one-off set of plans, whereas natures blueprint actual built form is still in its infancy. The view that
is a set of instructions that depend on a particular evolutionary processes position built architecture as a
environmental context for their interpretation. living and evolving system relies heavily on biological
Our present search to go beyond the blueprint and scientific analogies as well as cybernetics,
in architecture and to formulate a coded set complexity, and chaos theory. Frazer outlines
of responsive instructions (what we call a genetic eight aspects of evolution: development through
language of architecture) may yield a more natural selection, self-organization, metabolism,
appropriate metaphor.1 Architectural design has thermodynamics, morphology, morphogenetics,
been fascinated by evolutionary concepts developed symmetry breaking, and the prevalence of instability.
in the recent past. While such explorations have All of these aspects of evolution produce change at a
lately contributed a great deal to the theory and variety of scales, but the basis of all such conditions is
practice of architecture, the conversation encircling information.2 The aim of these projects is to achieve
evolutionary concepts has typically been constrained the symbiotic behavior and metabolic balance found
to the design processes and ends with the building in nature. To do so, architecture must operate like
of the building. In other words, the concepts an organism, in a direct analogy with the underlying
have been used in the design of many buildings design process of nature. The great unknown in our
and environments, but not in the buildings and built environments, despite the best intentions of
environments themselves. the designers, is the usersin particular, users that
The projects in this chapter are concerned with become active participants. Computer scientist and
the concept of evolutionary design at precisely that business architect Richard Veryard observes that
moment, once the projects are being built. While architecture-in-use emerges from a complex set of
the architectural world has embraced evolutionary interactions between the efforts and intentions of


many people. The architects cannot anticipate, let architecture that is supported by an improved
alone control, all of these interactions.3 understanding of biological systems and of scale in
In the recent past, we have seen a wealth of particular. Arnim von Gleich and his colleagues at
explorations in biomimetics applied to architecture. the University of Bremen have identified three main
The profession has been rapidly embracing digital strands of development in biomimetics: 1) functional
design technologies applied within a framework morphology (form and function); 2) signal and
of biologically inspired processes. The physicist information processing, biocybernetics, sensor
Yoseph Bar-Cohen sums it up well: Nature has technology, and robotics; and 3) nanobiomimetics
experimented with various solutions and over (molecular self-organization and nanotechnology).6
billions of years it has improved the successful ones. 4 The organic paradigm reinterprets the scale at which
He adds: Adapting mechanisms and capabilities designers work and view the world at at all scales. In
from nature and using scientific approaches led to the recent past we have seen innovations in related
effective materials, structures, tools, mechanisms, fields of automotive and aerospace engineering
processes, algorithms, methods, systems and many derived from electronic systems, but now we are
other benefits. In terms of the development of beginning to witness an explosion of innovation
robots, he states that the multidisciplinary issues in manufacturing and fabrication that is heavily
involved include actuators, sensors, structures, influenced by both biology and scale. Until recently,
functionality, control, intelligence, and autonomy.5 robots were getting smaller and smaller and relying
Put simply, nature is the largest laboratory that on the tiniest of conventional mechanical parts.
has ever existed and ever will exist. In addressing From a material vantage point, the possibilities
its challenges through evolution, nature tested at hand make the mechanical paradigm seem
every field of science and engineering, leading to dated, ironically, before it ever had a chance to
inventions that work well and last. fully manifest. As the architect Michael Weinstock
Technological advancements in manufacturing poetically states: Material is no longer subservient
and fabrication, in particular with respect to to a form imposed upon it but is instead the very
materials, have continued to expand the parameters genesis of the form itself.7
of what is possible in the area of natural adaptation. Developments in architecture have always been
These advancements influence the scale on which intrinsically tied to developments in materials. The
we understand and construct our world, resulting architect Toshiko Mori has pointed out, we can
in a reinterpretation of the mechanical paradigm theoretically produce materials to meet specific
of adaptation. Such advancements have fostered an performative criteria; this transformation often takes
understanding of adaptation that is more holistic and place at the molecular level, where materiality is
operates on a very small internal scale. rendered invisible. 8 Intelligent and smart are general
A biological paradigm requires more than just terms for materials that have one or more properties
understanding pragmatic and performance-based that can be altered. The architect Blaine Brownell
technologies; aesthetic, conceptual, and philosophical describes transformational materials as those that
issues relating to humans and the global environment undergo a physical metamorphosis when triggered
must also be taken into consideration. A number by environmental stimuli; such change may either
of architects and philosophers are beginning be based on the inherent properties of the material
to formulate the basis for a physically dynamic or user driven.9 The architects Michelle Addington

and Daniel Schodek divide smart materials and material. HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology
systems into two classes. Type one materials is self-contained within a regulated environment,
undergo changes in one or more of their properties and HygroSkin: Meteorosensitive Pavilion is in an
(chemical, electrical, magnetic, mechanical, or unregulated outdoor environment. Doris Sung has
thermal) in direct response to a change in external taken a very similar approach with Bloom but uses
stimuli. A Type two smart material transforms thermobimetals to create a dynamically responsive
energy from one form into another; this class skin with the goal of self-regulating the building
involves materials that exhibit the following types of temperature. Bimetals are formed by laminating
behavior: photovoltaic, thermoelectric, piezoelectric, two thin sheets of metals that expand at different
photoluminescent, and electrostrictive.10 temperatures, causing the sheets to curl when heated.
Although they are not common in architectural Sungs project also makes an important contribution
scenarios, many other industries are already in scalar differentiation. She puts it as follows: A
demonstrating how smart materials can be used, as brick wall is the same shape over and over again, but
sensors, detectors, transducers, and actuators. As a if you look at a fish, each scale is a unique size and
piezoelectric material is deformed, it gives off a small conforms to its specific location. Also significant is
but measurable electrical discharge. An example of that the project has been applied at an architectural
this kind of material is the airbag sensor in your car, scale and proven itself over time in the fluctuating
which senses the force of an impact on the car and outdoor environment.
sends an electric charge to deploy the airbag. The Manuel Kretzers ShapeShift demonstrates a
architect and professor John Fernandez points out number of interesting explorations with electroactive
that such embedded sensors, self-healing composites, polymers, soft plastics that change their size, shape,
and nanoscale and responsive materials are perfectly or volume in response to a strong electrical field.
poised for many architectural applications, because Despite decades of research and continual progress,
they can counteract loads and reduce material, change the domain of electroactive polymers is still far from
shape to block sunlight, allow for active ventilation mature, and a number of topics, such as long-term
and insulation, and prevent their own degradation. performance and durability, need immense further
The projects featured in this section demonstrate development. Nevertheless, Kretzer has demonstrated
a variety of approaches to adaptation at the level a number of potential applications that are based
of materials. The beauty is that none of them relies on the shape flexibility of electroactive polymers. In
on an elaborate technical system, and, as Achim other professions, says Kretzer, these polymers have
Menges aptly puts it, they show how an intellectual already been utilized as artificial muscles, both for
investment in higher design integration, allows prosthetic purposes or super-human exoskeletons,
for the realization of strikingly simple yet effective microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), medical
systems. Menges and the computational designer devices, speakers and more concrete applications,
Steffen Reichert have been fascinated with the such as refreshable braille displays, or gaming
particular biological processes of hygroscopic interfaces. Although there is still work to be done
actuation and applied them, with astonishing regarding the feasibility of architectural durability,
results, to a couple of their projects. Based on there is great potential for innovation. An awareness
the relative humidity, a material change occurs; of advancements in both robotics and new materials
this is a decidedly no-tech approach in which the promises an architectural future in which adaptation
systems adaptive capacities are ingrained in the is more holistic and operates on a small internal scale.


installation as a
permanent exhibit
Achim Menges at the Centre
Pompidou in Paris
with Steffen Reichert and Oliver David Kreig

Biology offers an unmatched level of adapta- environment. The related dimensional change
tion and responsiveness from which to draw of the material triggers a shape change in the
inspiration. For architecture, botany exists as a cone scales, which leads to the release of its
particularly interesting field of investigation, as seeds. While many passive plant movements are
it offers a rich repertoire of adaptive movements irreversible, conifer cones retain their respon-
made without muscles. The responsive move- siveness even after the biological function of
ments of plants can be categorized into two seed release is fulfilled. The material responsive-
main groups: (1) active cell pressureactuated ness to environmental conditions is based on
systems, and (2) passive systems that are fully its hygroscopic behaviorits ability to absorb
independent from a plants metabolic trigger moisture from the air and release it back, in pur-
mechanism. The conifer cone, or more specifi- suit of a constant equilibrium between its own
cally its cone scales, is an interesting example of moisture level and that of the surrounding envi-
the latter. In dry conditions, the cones materiality ronment. During these processes of absorption
allows it to adjust its moisture content to the and desorption, a physical change occurs. Water

left and below:
Physical changes
reveal the dynamic
nature of the


molecules become bonded to or released from moisture content and its innate tendency to The hygroscopic
material system
the material. The changing distance between the move anisotropically. is based on the
microfibrils within the wood cell tissue causes The HygroScope project takes a different biological example
shrinkage and expansion. The scale movement route, instrumentalizing the inherent dimensional of the conifer cone
is an effect of the combination of the materials change of wood as the trigger mechanism for an
dimensional change and anisotropic composition. adaptive shape change. The actual movement
Such directional characteristics can be found in can be controlled by varying the following mate-
the materiality of the scales cross-layered fiber. rial-specific parameters: (1) the fiber direction-
Since all the actuation energy for the shape ality; (2) the layout of the natural and synthetic
change is derived from the surrounding environ- composite; (3) the length-width-thickness ratio;
ment, conifer cones can be described as passive, (4) the element geometry; and, especially, (5) the
autonomous responsive systems. humidity control during the production process.
Since responsiveness in architecture is In this way, movement behavior can be precisely
usually perceived as a technical function, most controlled and calibrated to specific ranges of
solutions require separate (electro-) mechanical relative humidity change. The response behavior
sensing, actuation, and regulation mechanisms. can even be manipulated in such a way that the
The projects presented here follow a biologi- same basic material element can be tuned to
cal, no-tech approach, in contrast to high-tech either open or close when exposed to the same
mechanical endeavors. The adaptive capacity stimulus. The decomposition of the cones com-
of their systems is ingrained in the material; no plex structure and the transfer into a set of mate-
additional technical equipment is requiredfor rial and fabrication parameters and rules formed
sensing, actuating, or regulating. the basis of the computational design strategies
Based on the biological example of the of HygroScope, as well as the related ability of
conifer cone, Achim Menges, Steffen Reichert, physically programming the material behavior in
and Oliver David Kreig have developed a response to the specific project context.
hygroscopic material system. The responsive HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology
materiality of their system is achieved with was commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in
woodmore precisely, simple, quarter-cut Paris for the museums permanent collection and
veneerin combination with a synthetic was first shown in the exhibition Multiversits
fiber-reinforced polymer. Wood is one of the old- Cratives in May 2012. The installation displays
est and most common construction materials, an autonomous, responsive architectural surface
and its hygroscopic capacity is well understood suspended within a climate-controlled, fully
yet finds almost no application. In fact, it is transparent glass case. The visually floating sur-
usually perceived as a problematic characteris- face follows the no-tech paradigm of the related
tic of the material. Thus, most energy in timber research and opens and closes in response to its
processing is spent on reducing the materials surrounding humidity. Located in possibly one of

the most stable, climate-controlled spaces in the form a transition between the center areas and
worldthe interior of the Centre Pompidouthe the channels and are covered with a directional
glass case houses a custom climate-control unit configuration that opens toward the channel
that simulates the humidity changes of the city areas. In low-humidity conditions, the structure
outside the building. The related oscillation of forms a fully closed surface, but with an increase
moisture level causes the system to silently open of moist air, the surface transforms into a porous
and close, enabling the visitor to experience the system. The related response requires neither
fluctuation of relative humidity that forms an electric nor mechanical equipment nor a supply
intrinsic part of everyday life but usually escapes of energy. The veneer-composite elements are at
our conscious perception. At the same time, the once sensor, motor, and surface.
installation triggers an awareness of untapped HygroSkin: Meteorosensitive Pavilion was
energy sources latent in the dynamics of our commissioned by the Fonds rgional dart
environment. contemporain prsente ses collections et expo-
The morphological articulation of the system sitions (FRAC) Centre Orlans for its perma-
was developed through a custom computa- nent collection and was first shown as part of
tional process that incorporated the reciprocal ArchiLabs Naturalizing Architecture exhibition in
system-intrinsic parameters, the fabrication 2013. The project explores the tension between
constraints of a state-of-the-art robotic fabri- an archetypical architectural volume, the box,
cation technology, and extrinsic environmental and a deep, undulating skin that embeds clusters
considerations. This integrative design method- of intricate climate-responsive apertures. The
ology allowed for exploring the morphospace of traveling pavilions modular design is based on
possible design variations. The installation was the stringent requirement of a small packing
constructed from more than four thousand geo- volume. The modules themselves are derived
metrically differentiated elements and employs from the elastic bending behavior of thin ply-
wood as the primary construction material. wood material and the potential for generating
The global shape shows three protuberances global structures from a common conical base
of continuing surface, which are connected geometry.
by a cellular channel area. The different areas Plywood can be elastically bent into devel-
are designed to form separate microclimate opable shapes such as cylinders or cones, each
zones that correspond to the humidity-release conical element consisting of a double-layered
locations. The resulting two morphologically skin. First, the two separate cones are elasti-
distinct zones of the system are equipped with cally self-formed. Next, a sandwich element is
two different opening mechanisms: (1) the center produced using vacuum pressing, laminating the
of the protuberances, which act as the chan- plywood pieces onto a foam core. The initial con-
nels centralized opening mechanism, and (2) ical modules are surveyed for tolerances that use
the second opening mechanism, whereby the a seven-axis industrial robot. The modules edges
radially ripped main bodies of the protuberances are trimmed into their final differentiated form


Component models
of the hygroscopic
material system
in different
responsive states

using the robot with a circular saw tool. Finally, for the realization of strikingly simple yet
the inner foam core is milled into shape, resulting effective systems. In addition, they suggest a
in lightweight, differentiated modules that can be promising coalescence of system performance
assembled into a robust, structural system yet and architectural performativity, as the complex
easily transported. Within the concave surface of environmental dynamics lead to continuously
the conical modules, injection-molded aper- differentiated spatial conditions. While the
ture elements are placed, forming the support HygroSkin pavilion is programmed to close with
structure for the weather-responsive material. In increasing humidity and serve as a meteoro-
contrast to the previous HygroScope project, the sensitive weather shelter, the HygroScope
responsiveness of the apertures was physically project opens in response to the same stimulus,
programmed to close with an increasing humidity breathing and releasing humidity through the
level and serve as autonomous weather protec- increased porosity. In controlled laboratory
tion. Calibrated to a range of 30 to 90 percent conditions, a linear dependency between the
relative humidity, the apertures utilize the full degree of relative humidity and the degree of
spectrum of moderate climate zones. In direct openness can be observed. But being exposed
feedback with their local environment, they con- to much more complex environments, both
tinuously adjust their degree of openness and projects show fascinating unexpected local
porosity, modulating the light transmission and differentiation in responsiveness. Since relative
visual permeability of the envelope. The pavilion humidity is defined as a function of absolute
is therefore designed as a unique convergence of humidity and temperature, heat radiation or
environmental and spatial experience. other ambient climate influences are responsible
Together the projects presented here form for the sometimes counterintuitive response
a first step toward responsive architecture that of the hygroscopically actuated systems. Their
does not rely on elaborate technical systems. behavior remains unpredictable, therefore, and
In many ways, they show how an intellectual enables a visual experience of otherwise hidden
investment in higher design integration allows environmental patterns.

this and the
following spread:
Various views of
the completed



A sun-tracking instrument indexing time and additional power or controls. In order to heighten
temperature, Bloom stitched together material the sensitivity of the skin, the overall form was
experimentation, structural innovation, and oriented toward the suns arc to maximize solar
computational form and pattern making into exposure, much as growing plants and flowers
an environmentally responsive installation. The are. The effect was further optimized by the use
responsive surface was primarily made out of of powerful software to generate parametric pat-
more than nine thousand smart thermobimetal terns. With todays digital technology and driving
tiles, no two pieces of which are alike. As a lamina- interest in sustainable design, thermobimetal,
tion of two metal alloys with different coefficients a simple material, transcends its limited role
of expansion, a thermobimetal automatically curls as a mechanical actuating device to become a
when heated by the sun or by ambient tempera- dynamic building-surface material while expand-
ture changes; the result was a highly differen- ing the discourse of performative architecture.
tiated skin system that could smartly shade or In addition to the cultural and intellectual
ventilate specific areas under the canopy without implications, several inherent constraints of the


Views of the
showing Blooms
human scale and
natural kinetic

physical context contributed to the development toward the sun, provides a dynamic urban area
of the project. Shaded by the adjacent buildings, below, and assumes a shape representative of
the small outdoor courtyard at the Materials & our technological age and renewed interest in
Application Gallery in Los Angeles presented an biomimetics. It references nature in its form, in its
unfortunate challenge for a project that relies movement, and in its name.
on heat and sunlight to operate. Like a plant, the The main goal of Bloom was to demonstrate
form grew out of the shadows and toward the the efficacy of thermobimetals as an exterior
sunlight, but also needed to resist gravity and building surface with two functions. The first
lateral loads. Without the ability to attach to an of these involved the bimetals potential as a
adjacent building or build extensive foundation sun-shading device that dynamically increases
systems, Doris Sungs firm, DOSU, put extensive the amount of shade with the rise of the outdoor
effort into finding a form that would be light- temperature. The size, shape, and orientation
weight, structurally sound, beautiful, and perfor- of the tiles were positioned strategically to
mative. The product was a canopy that blooms perform optimally according to the angle of the


The pavilion in
its dense urban

sun by use of advanced modeling software. The (and more twisted) to increase structural capa-
second function of the bimetals was to ventilate bility. The final lightweight and flexible monoco-
unwanted hot air. Optimizing the contortion of que form was dependent on the overall geometry
individual bimetal tiles caused any captured heat and combination of materials to provide compre-
to trigger the surface tiles to curl and passively hensive stability. Once complete, the structure
ventilate the space below. The use of complex automatically conformed to its designed geom-
digital tools such as Computer Aided Three- etry and gains maximum stability. This method
Dimensional Interactive Application (CATIA), of design allowed the project to weigh in at an
Rhinoscript, and Grasshopper with other solar estimated six hundred poundslightweight in
and structural analysis tools continues to chal- the structural-shell world of design.
lenge the traditional processes of design and With the availability of digital-to-digital
the capabilities of fabrication. With surprisingly fabrication, most of the design-build effort was
few mistakes in the final fabrication files, the invested in the preparation of the digital models
use of digital software in this proof-of-concept and fabrication files. All construction joints were
installation proved to be an amazingly useful tool reduced to simple rivets or nut/bolt connec-
in computer-aided manufacturing. tions so that special tools or costly methods
Composed of 414 hyperbolic paraboloid of construction are eliminated. The repetitive
shaped stacked panels, the self-supporting connections were assembled using wrenches,
structure tested the capability of the materials pliers, and rivet gunstools anyone can use.
to perform as a shell in a completely unique way. Additionally, the need for large-scale equipment
The panels combined a double-ruled surface of was also eliminated by strategically building the
bimetal tiles with an interlocking, folded alumi- structure from the top down, allowing all hand
num-frame system. In some areas of Bloom, the assembly to take place on the ground. To do
hypar panels were stiffened by increasing the this, a large wooden ringslightly larger than
number of riveted connections, while in other the topmost edge of Bloomwas needed as
areas, the peaks and valleys were made deeper an armature to hang the overall piece during

left and opposite:
drawings showing
the indexing
of time and

construction. Row by row, panel by panel, the and tile shape play a large role in performance
project slowly took shape. The ring was raised and production. Different from their cus-
higher and new rows of panels were inserted tom-made counterparts, mass-produced building
from below until the final row locked in the components benefit from the insertion of bimet-
overall geometry. Until the structure was settled als in their composite systems. In double-glazed
on the ground, the surface could not take its true panel systems, the bimetals can behave like an
geometry and full strength. automatic shutter system requiring no energy,
The impact of Bloom on the design pro- while in cement blocks they can allow air to pass
fession, construction industry, academia, and through when temperatures are high to make
general public should be a paradigm shift: the breezing walls. In all cases, the tangible contribu-
project asserted a sustainable, passive method tion to sustainable design is clear, and the variety
of reducing reliance on artificial climate-control of continued research projects is a testament to
systems and, ultimately, on the waste of valuable the potential of this smart material in performa-
energy. It exhibited an innovative structural tive building skins.
strategy that valued distributed structural
stresses and reduced infrastructural needs, and
it demonstrated the power of digital technologies
in the design, analysis, and fabrication of com-
plex tessellated surfaces. Currently, new alloy
laminations are being developed in collaboration
with manufacturers for durability and for greater
deformation characteristics in shape-memory
alloys, while other architectural applications, like
building screens and brise-soleils, are begin-
ning production. Because brise-soleils have the
potential for immediate application, patterning


Manuel Kretzer

ShapeShift investigated the potential of elec- electronic electroactive polymers. Ionic EAPs are
troactive polymers (EAP) to create a dynamic driven by a displacement of ions during electrical
spatial intervention. Electroactive polymers are stimulation, which leads to a change in shape or
soft plastics that can change their size, shape, volume. Their main advantage is that they can be
or volume in response to a strong electrical field. actuated by voltages as low as one to two volts;
In the domain of active materials, they stand out however, since the ions are diffused inside an
due to their large deformation potential, high electrolyte, they need to maintain their wetness
response speed, low weight, and price. While at all times. For their strong bending capabili-
EAP research mainly focuses on their applica- ties, they are mostly used as bending actuators,
tion as artificial muscles, ShapeShift wanted to where high forces are required but have a rather
highlight their quality as dynamic, space-forming slow response speed. Since the production of
surface material. stable material configurations requires high
According to their working principle, EAPs precision, they are expensive and usually not
can be split into two main categories: ionic and commercially available.


left, opposite, and
following page:
The exhibit as set
up at the Starkart
gallery in Zurich

Electronic EAPs are driven by strong electric doped polyacetylene with iodine and thereby
fields. The electrostatic forces lead to an electro- enhanced its conductivity by eight times, getting
mechanical change in the shape of the material. it close to that of metal. In the early 1990s, ionic
Usually, electronic EAPs are applied as planar polymer-metal composites were developed, and
actuators due to their large in-plane deforma- they displayed a much lower activation voltage
tions. In contrast to their ionic counterparts, they while sustaining a larger deformation than previ-
work in dry conditions but need very high acti- ous electroactive polymers.
vation voltages, in the range of several kilovolts. The first commercially developed device
They exhibit a very short response delay, display containing EAPs as artificial muscles was a fish,
a relatively large activation stress, and can hold produced by Eamex in Japan in 2002. It worked
the induced displacement under direct current without batteries or a motor, relying simply on
(DC) activation. EAP materials that bent when energized by
The first reported occurrence of an electro- inductive coils at the top and bottom of the fish
active phenomenon dates back to 1880, when tank. In 1990, the Defense Advanced Research
Wilhelm Rntgen observed a length change in a Projects Agency (DARPA) funded research that
rubber band, fixed at one end with a weight that led to the development of an EAP based on sili-
was electrically charged and discharged. In 1899, cone and acrylic polymers. The company Artificial
M. P. Sacerdote confirmed Rntgens experiment Muscle further developed the technology in 2005
and formulated a theory of the strain response to and started industrial production in 2008. In 2010,
electric-field activation. In 1925, electret, the first Artificial Muscle became a subsidiary of Bayer
piezoelectric polymer, was discovered by combin- Material Science. Since 2008, Danfoss manufac-
ing carnauba wax, rosin, and beeswax, then, while tures and commercializes a dielectric EAP mate-
cooling and solidifying the mixture, exposing it to rial called PolyPower, which is mostly intended for
a DC bias field. In 1969, it was demonstrated that use as variable stretch sensors.
polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) displays a large Among the electronic EAPs, the espe-
piezoelectric constant. In 1977, Hideaki Shirakawa cially soft dielectric variety (also referred to as

dielectric elastomers) exhibit promising func- planar film expansion. Once the voltage is turned
tional properties. They are capable of strains up off and the electrodes are short-circuited, the
to 380 percent, are extremely flexible, light, thin, EAP returns to its original shape.
and transparent, and can basically be tailored Two main types of dielectric elastomers
to any size or shape. The central element of have so far been developed. The stacked, or
dielectric elastomer actuators consists of a thin contractile, actuators consist of several hundred
elastomeric film, made of silicone or acrylic. The or thousand layers and can work against exter-
membrane is coated on both sides with or is nal tensile loads, acting in the thick direction
sandwiched between two compliant electrodes. since the material is compressed when acti-
In this configuration, the polymer acts as a vated. The expanding actuators perform work
dielectric in a compliant capacitor. When an elec- against external pressure loads in both planar
trical voltage is applied, opposite charges move directions. They are usually under a certain pre-
from one electrode to the other and squeeze the stretch and are often embraced by a mechanical
film in its thickness direction, which leads to a support structure or frame. In these systems, the


expanding actuator

Iterative studies of
size, shape, stretch,
frame, and material

support is released when the material relaxes Once a DC voltage in the range of three to five
under activation. kilovolts was applied, the film was compressed in
In order to successfully create a dielectric its thick direction (against the vertically stacked
elastomer actuator, particular requirements have layers), which led to a planar expansion of the
to be met. The film must be thin with uniform membrane. Since the membrane was attached
thickness, incompressible, and a good electrical to the flexible frame, the frame bent when the
insulator. The frame must be flexible yet strong material was in its relaxed state and flattened out
enough to maintain the pre-stretch and pull the when the tension was removed during actuation.
film when actuated. Most of all, electrodes need Through numerous design iterations, the
good conductivity, even when stretched; they students altered the shape, size, frame-border
must be as thin as possible and bond well with width, material thickness, and materiality of the
the dielectric film. This is usually achieved by frames until the movement was empirically maxi-
spraying or brushing electrically conductive par- mized and the desired three-dimensional motion
ticles, such as metal, carbon black, or graphite was achieved. Parallel to the development of
powder, onto the membrane. In order to supply single components, investigations into structural
the dielectric elastomer with the necessary arrangements were performed. Due to the labo-
high-DC activation voltage, high voltage sources rious manual fabrication procedure, tessellations
or amplifiers are utilized. For reasons of longevity based on a minimal number of elements were
and safety, the finished component can be explored. In the end, a very simple arrange-
insulated with a passive silicone layer, though it ment, derived from a multitude of identical
reduces the components active capacity. components, was selected. Through physically
ShapeShift emphasized the aesthetic proper- connecting the components together, dynamic
ties and the soft organic movement of the mate- configurations could be achieved that enhanced
rial through an interactive spatial installation. the movement of the individual elements and
The structure consisted of thirty-six identical resulted in feasible, self-supporting structures.
active elements, produced as described above. As with the single shapes, the final form of these

tessellations resulted from the relationship of the serial resistance within the electrodes changes.
dielectric elastomer to its frame and the connec- Furthermore, they can be used to convert
tions to neighboring elements. mechanical work into electrical energy and, as
A number of potential applications have such, be applied as dielectric generatorsfor
emerged, based on the shape flexibility of EAPs, example, to harvest energy from sea waves
which, among other qualities, makes them highly with their softness and flexibility in shape and
versatile materials. They have been used as design providing additional qualities. More likely,
artificial muscles, both for prosthetic purposes however, will be the use of EAPs for portable
and superhuman exoskeletons, microelectro- devices and peripherals. They predict a haptic
mechanical systems (MEMS), medical devices, usage in the consumer electronics touch-display
speakers, and, more concretely, as refreshable market exceeding 60 percent until 2018, and
braille displays or gaming interfaces. Based on that will account for more than 40 percent of the
their immediacy and natural or organic behavior, expected total revenue in five years.
recent research has investigated their poten- For architectural applications, EAPs exhibit
tial for active camouflaging on soft surfaces, very promising properties; their homoge-
mimicking the principles of the chromatophores neous surface quality, transparency, and large,
of cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, octopus). active deformation are visually astonishing.
Chromatophores are color-changing cells found Problematic, however, is their scalability and
in the skin of the animal. Even though a large especially their durability, which cannot yet
variety of EAP actuators has been successfully comply with architectural standards, especially
demonstrated, most materials are still cus- when exposed to changing environmental and
tom-made, and the number of commercially climatic conditions. Automating the manufac-
available products is limited. turing process could partially help to make more
In addition to acting as mechanical actuators, consistent components, but in order to make
EAPs can perform as sensors. When the charged them more stable, a carrier material other than
EAP device is stretched or contracted, the the Very High Bond (VHB) film by 3M would


Short-Circuited Actuated Dielectric elas-
tomer working

front electrode (1)

elastomeric membrane (2)
rear electrode (3)



Side Views Perspective Single Component

Final arrangement
of components Penrose

Various tiling
options during

have to be developed. In public spaces also, the

accessibility, location, and possible insulation of
the material need to be considered. The compo-
nents require fairly high voltages, which pose a
certain danger and can harm people when they
touch the elements during activation.

Definition: to bring about, inspire
Related Words: conduce (to), contribute (to); begin, establish,
father, found, inaugurate, initiate, innovate, institute,
introduce, launch, pioneer, set, set up, start; advance, cultivate,
develop, encourage, foster, nourish, nurture, promote
Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. catalyze, accessed March 25, 2015,

151 EPIPHYTE CHAMBER / Philip Beesley

160 CONVENTIONS OF CONTROL / Michael Fox and Allyn Polancic
164 ALLOPLASTIC ARCHITECTURE / Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani

Philosophically, interactive architecture a biomimetic adaptation that is augmented
is in a unique position to reposition the role of the with robotic control. The projects in this area
designer. This role should be less about creating define an architecture that goes beyond the
a finished design and more about catalyzing mere capacity to interact to reposition designers
about asking how a design may evolve. In a sense, as catalysts who can adapt and evolve with the
designing interactive architecture should be an world around them. A cybernetic system is an
egoless, emergent endeavor that lies in designing the inclusive one, encompassing organism, machine,
platform for the future, not the future itself. Such a organization, and environment. As mentioned in
position is both noble and profound, for it means the the introduction, Norbert Wiener characterized
designer must understand people well enough to be cybernetics back in 1948 as the scientific study of
able to design for them yet also design interfaces and control and communication in the animal and the
tools such that people can in turn become designers. machine.1 As a secondary matter of clarification,
What has made the ubiquitous smartphone so biomimetics was created by Otto Schmitt in 1969
powerful is not that it is a connected device, but that as a scientific approach to systems, processes, and
it is a platform for the creation of applications. It models in nature, imitating them in order to solve
has become a catalyst for design and ideas that were human problems. Biocybernetics, then, is a relatively
never intended. new term for an abstract science centered on the
To preface, lets begin with a bit of clarification application of cybernetics to biological science.
in terminology. As the term adaptive has Last, it seems necessary to define robotics, which is
increasingly fostered a shift from the paradigm of here interpreted as a mechanical agent guided by a
the mechanical to the biological, it has left a gap program. The point of clarifying such terminology
in the area of control. In the strictly biomimetic is to focus this exploration on how robotics can
approach to architectural design, robotics helps serve as a means of augmented control for natural
to fill this gap. Biorobotic architecture defines biomimetic adaptation.


Early use of pick-and-place robotics primarily and even brainwave recognition. It may soon be
utilized a system of top-down control when applied commonplace to embed architecture with interfaces
to architectural scenarios. Modular robotics, on that allow users to interact with their environments.
the other hand, relies on decentralized control. As architectural scenarios move beyond direct
Although there may be no centralized control sensing and response conditions, we are confronted
structure dictating how individual parts of a by the need for more natural and direct means of
system should behave, local interactions between control. Many in the architectural profession have
individual modules can lead to the emergence of begun to study and learn from interactive media
global behavior. Most architectural applications are precedents and usurp the technologies employed
neither self-organizing nor equipped with higher- for controlling interactive digital environments.
level intelligence functions of heuristic and symbolic Technologies that allow users new means to control
decision-making abilities. Most applications do, and interact with digital information can be broken
however, exhibit a behavior based on low-level down into three general categories: touch and
intelligence functions of automatic response and multitouch, gesture, and cognitive control. To date,
communication. The beauty of such distributed there are many touch and multitouch interfaces;
control, which we have seen in many projects gesture interfaces are still in their infancy with
in this book, is that when it is applied to a large regard to architectural applications; and direct
system, there is potential for emergent behavior. cognitive controls reside on the developmental
An emergent behavior can occur when a number horizon but show fascinating promise.
of simple systems operate in an environment that Gestural language is perhaps the most intriguing
forms more complex behaviors as a collective. For means of control in that it enables real physical
instance, Epiphyte Chamber, one of many responsive interactions. Advancements in multitouch hardware
and distributed architectural environments Philip technology are significant to architecture, because, in
Beesley has constructed, is composed of flexible many cases, the gestures used to control an interface
lightweight structures that integrate kinetic functions replicate closely the gestures that would be used to
with a microprocessing, sensor and actuator systems. perform these activities in real space with tangible
In the poetic words of Beesley, An epiphyte is a kind objects. Gestural physical manipulation of physical
of plant that can grow without soil, suggesting a building components and of physical space itself is
hovering unrooted world. arguably the most suitable form of control relative to
In all of the projects in this section, the devices, speech, or cognition. From the standpoint
environments are articulated as an interface. In of control, the gestural projects developed by
terms of a resolution with respect to the sensing of myself and Allyn Polancic serve as something of an
human factors, recent developments in the area of intervention on the current profusion of exploration
interface design will eventually play a major role in in robotic and interactive architecture. As architec-
how we envision our interactions with architectural tural scenarios move beyond direct sensing and
spaces and objects. Interface design is heavily tied response conditions, we are confronted by the need
to sensor innovation and manufacturing, which has for an even more direct yet still natural means of
heralded the availability of previously unimaginable control. Currently interactive control is all too often
means for gathering data and information and either handheld mobile devices or very limited
for intangible forms of interaction such as gesture sensing capabilities; there is a typical disconnect in

the employment of devices to control (what should working knowledge of how Microsoft Kinect and
be) an interface. Conventions of Control demonstrates other remote sensing devices might be used more
that human interaction with architecture should universally in order to enrich the way we interact
follow the intuitive nature of its gestural vernacular, with our environment. Bouzanjani demonstrates
which is device-free and allows for a variety of input that the designer no longer designs the final form
streams. The project establishes architecture as an but rather creates an initial state with autonomous
interface that allows users to directly interact with dynamic potential. Perhaps the most interesting
the environments via an adaptive gestural language. outcome of this project is that it leads one to
Interaction, or play, with the physical world is crucial question the conservatism and skepticism toward
to the way humans learn to socialize and understand technology implicit in the thinking of, for example,
reality. The evolution of gesture-based vocabularies Martin Heidegger, whose criticism of the potentially
to control devices, interfaces, and, eventually, alienating effect of technology has engendered a
the entire built environment should reflect this negative attitude toward technology in general and
relationship and ideology. toward computation in particularan attitude still
Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani takes adaptive gestural prevalent in certain architectural circles.3 Alloplastic
control a step further than Conventions of Control Architecture shows that, far from being a source of
by abstracting the architectural environment into alienation, technology may itself actually combat that
one that has no precedent of interaction. With distinctly modern condition.4
Alloplastic Architecture, the intention was to create The important thing is that systems that are
a space that, like any soft adaptive system in nature, controlled yet control themselves on another level
could physically reconfigure itself based on user have the potential to catalyze design. As Bouzanjani
movements.. The main focus of the project is the puts it: The architect no longer designs the final
relationship between materials, form, and interactive form but rather creates an initial state, introduces
systems of control. As the architectural theorist a set of controlled constraints, and then allows the
Sanford Kwinter observes, soft systems evolve structure to be activated to find its form in real time.
by internal regulating mechanisms, yet always in What results is the emergence of unexpected shapes.
collaboration with forces and effects (information) Rather than literally interpreting and responding to
arriving from an outside source.2 Bouzanjani has human and environmental desires, the architectural
created a space that can build up an understanding system is allowed to take a bottom-up role in
of its users through their bodily gestures, visual configuring itself in a malleable way. As Gordon
expressions, and rituals of behavior, and respond Pask states in his foreword to An Evolutionary
accordingly. The project documents the crucial Architecture: The role of the architect here, I think, is
questions behind the design of an interactive, not so much to design a building or city as to catalyze
gutturally controlled, completely malleable structure them: to act that they may evolve.5
and analyzes the decisions made throughout the
design process. One of the main contributions of this
project is it demonstrates that the design of a physical
environment can change its shape to accommodate
various performances in the space based exclusively
on the users body motion. The project presents a


installed at the
Museum of Modern
Philip Beesley and Contemporary
Art, Seoul

Epiphyte Chamber is a work that featured halolike were organized as deeply reticulated skins that
masses of delicate mechanical veils lining a series sought to maximize interchange with the atmo-
of intimate, interconnected spaces. The resulting sphere and other occupants.
environment acted as a primitive social architec- Epiphyte Chamber contained the first genera-
ture, offering viewers intimate sculptural places tions of an invented structural system made from
that support small clusters of activity while inter- thermoformed acrylic diagrid spars that created
linking larger gathering areas. A hovering filter a massive bubbling, porous infrastructure full of
environment composed of hundreds of thousands interlinking voids, spatially akin to sinus cavities
of individual laser-cut acrylic, Mylar, glass, and or the tunnels in termite mounds. Hybrid soil full
aluminum elements created diffusive boundaries of turbulent qualities was interwoven throughout
between occupants and the surrounding milieu. the spaces made by this scaffold. The soil was
Sensors embedded throughout the environment given a seething quality riddled with chemical
triggered motions that rippled out from hives of exchanges, folded and fissured physical detailing,
kinetic parts in peristaltic waves. These structures and thousands of active mechanical components

Frond clusters
fitted with shape-
memory alloy
mechanisms react
to viewers as they
approach, flexing
and setting off
bursts of light that
stimulate protocells
and trigger chains
of motion

intertwined together. Frond clusters fitted with tonguelike lashes reached out to passing viewers
mechanisms of shape-memory alloy reacted to in gentle, undulating caresses. Networks of simple
viewers as they approached, flexing and setting computational devices and sensors allowed
off bursts of light that stimulate the protocells viewers to be tracked, offering small increments of
and trigger chains of motion. Surrounding these gentle muscular movement to register their pres-
clusters was a dense cloud of vessels that carried ence, rippling back to the viewers and initiating
salt and sugar solutions, alternately pulling in and the sense of a breathing, ambient architecture.
emitting moisture. Chains of vessels contained Hundreds of small mechanisms, which functioned
carbon-capture formulas that absorbed carbon similarly to glands, pores, and hair follicles in the
dioxidebearing air. Reactive LED lighting, using skin of an organism, permeated the sculpture.
shift-register microprocessor controls, created Sensing whiskers responded to the reach of
softly rolling clouds of delicate light within the viewers with curling and twitching responses,
hovering filters to respond to viewers movements. propelling humidified air, perfume, and organic
Flasks containing synthetic cells were nestled at material over fields of glands and traps.
the centers of the grouped fronds. Scent-emitting Adjacent elements communicated with one
glands attracted viewers and encouraged interac- another, spreading signals in waves. Nested loops
tion with the system as a stimulus to increased air of microprocessors networked by serial communi-
circulation and protocell formation. cation connections worked in layers of response
Viewers walked into an intimate space of that move outward from individual events and
interwoven structures and fragile canopies. overlapped in rebounds chained together in
As they moved through the environment, they many dozens of echoing reflexes. Parallel to the
came into contact with a dense wall of tentacles software-driven communication was a physical
fitted with sensors. These sensors were linked to communication system. Lashes extending from
shape-memory motors mounted in the sculptural mechanism-driven shape-memory alloy actuators
scaffolds that drove the expressive movements occasionally brushed against proximity sensors,
of the flexible structures. Reacting to movement, creating self-triggered signaling and motion that


Viewers walk into
an intimate space
of interwoven
structures and
delicate canopies

propagated in turbulent cycles. When occupant produced subtle, drifting veils of murmurs and
activity heightened, the structures of the space whispers. Responding to trembling waves that
would become saturated with instability, combin- moved throughout the layered mechanisms of
ing both physical triggers and behavior caused the structures, viewers could become aware of
by software-based communication. subtle impacts: air moving around the body, quiet
Alongside the mechanized component sys- rustling, crystalline formations within suspended
tems, a wet system that supported simple chem- liquid flasks in the process of condensing and
ical exchanges in the same way that the human precipitating.
lymphatic systems renewing functions operate Epiphyte Chamber expressed a very primi-
was introduced into the environment. Thousands tive hunger for a safe homea fundament. The
of primitive glands containing synthetic digestive kind of spaces that epiphytes create can seem
liquids and salts were clustered throughout emotionally charged: on one hand communicat-
the system. The adaptive chemistries within ing optimism, a sense of genesis, and a place
captured traces of carbon from the vaporous of beginning; on the other, speaking of the loss
surroundings and built delicate structural scaf- as the natural world dissolves away. Oscillating
folds. Engineered protocellsliquid-supported between these emotional states, this space
artificial cells that share some of the character- might behave as a primordial home that wraps
istics of natural living cellswere arranged in a around the occupant and offers the gentlest
series of embedded incubator flasks. Bursts of kind of shelter from an atmosphere stressed by
light and vibration, triggered by viewer move- radical dispersal.
ments, influenced the growth of the protocells, The work might evoke questions about
catalyzing the formation of vesicles. Organic the rather promiscuous exchanges that occur
batteries made of glass flasks containing vinegar between the natural and built environments.
with copper and aluminum electrodes produced There are personal dimensions at work herethe
tiny amounts of internally generated electricity, hovering qualities of the work echo personal
emitted as triggers for acoustic generators that bodily sensations, such as those found in the


Load-rated polyester sash cord

Steel quicklink
Aluminum link plate, in. thick
Acrylite spider support legs, 2 mm thick
Acrylite arms and clips throughout, 2 mm thick

Silicone tube joint, in. thick

Mylar leaves, 0.003 in. thick


Borosilicate glass teardrops

Acrylite flask holder, 2 mm thick

Borosilicate glass heart-shaped flask

Cricket Filter (~1kg/ea.)


Load-rated polyester sash cord

Steel quicklink
Aluminum link plate, in. thick
Acrylite spider support legs, 2 mm thick
Mylar feathers, 0.005 in. thick

Silicone tube joint, in. thick

Acrylite arms and clips throughout, 2 mm thick

Acrylite flask holder, 2 mm thick

Borosilicate glass flask, 250 ml

Diethy Phthalate with olive oil on top
Cricket Filter (~1kg/ea.)


this and
following spread:
Load-rated polyester sash cord Architectural
drawings of the
Steel quicklink complexity of the
Aluminum link plate, in thick ecosystem
Acrylite spider support legs, 2 mm thick

Acrylite arms and clips throughout, 2 mm thick


Silicone tube joint (beyond), in. thick

2mm thick Acrylite flask holder

Borosilicate glass flask, 100ml
Bare Ghost Filter (~0.5kg/ea.)

Refer to 2/D2 Bare

Ghost Cluster

Acrylite hooks, 2 mm
Tygon tubing, in. thick

Borosilicate glass dew drops

Nylon Y barbed connector (typ.)

Sculptural barb assembly

Acrylite shroud, 2 mm

Bare Ghost Filter with Glass Dewdrops (~1kg/ea.)

Tentacle Cluster
A Protocell flask with
high-power LED reflex
A B Thermoformed diagrid
acrylic spar
C Tentacle with shape-memory
alloy actuator
BB D Infrared proximity sensor
with LED reflex

Tentacle Assembly
11 22
1 Aluminum sled mount
44 2 Shape-memory alloy
x2 x2 x1 x1 x2 x2 x2 x3
actuated lever assembly
3 Copolyester tongue stiffener
6 7 8 9 10 21 22 23
4 Copolyester tongue
x1 x1 x1 x1 x1 x2 x1 x5
5 Isoprene polymer lash
11 12 13 14 15 24 25 26

x1 x1 x1 x1 x5 x1 x1

16 17 18 19 20 27 28


Tentacle Cluster
A Protocell flask with high power LED reflex B Thermoformed diagrid acrylic spar C Tentacle with
shape-memory alloy actuator D Infrared proximity sensor with LED reflex

Tentacle Assembly
1 Aluminum sled mount 2 Shape-memory alloy actuated lever assembly 3 Copolyester tongue stiffener
4 Copolyester tongue 5 Isoprene polymer lash 6 Shape-memory alloy mount 7 Acrylic lever
8 Lever base plate 9 Securing clip 10 Type I tongue depression plate 11 Type II tongue depression
plate 12 - 13 Tongue securing clips 14 - 18 Monofilament guide mount and lash clips 19 Tongue
securing clip 20 Type I tongue depression plate 21 -22 Assorted shoulder bolts 23 - 24 Assorted nylon
lock nuts 25 Wire crimp 20 Monofilament guides 27 Sleeve washer 28 Shoulder bolt

pineal gland, the sternum, or the bundles of evolving series of experimental architectural
ganglia in elbows, knees, and palms. Those installations that combine lightweight textilelike
loosely tangled clusters of nerve centers suggest structures, responsive mechanisms, distributed
that one is a mongrel of approximately coordi- computational controls, and chemical metabolic
nated, roughly aligned species rather than one systems. It launched in 2007 with the presen-
coordinated, fully conscious, integrated being. tation of Hylozoic Soil at Montreals Muse des
Efforts to engage the public are also inherent in Beaux Arts, and features contributions from the
the work via pursuit of a collective emplacement many international collaborators in the Living
and renewed public architecture. If traditional Architecture Collective associated with the
public squares and meeting rooms carry weight University of Waterloo. Using densely massed
from rigid kinds of nationalism and government, microprocessor-driven shape-memory alloy
what kind of public gathering place might guide mechanisms and groves of glassware that hold
a space of contemporary gathering? The work colonies of synthetic biology, the works create
implies renewed confidence about architecture immersive, interactive environments that move
functioning as a collective sanctuary. The scale and breathe.
is intended to work at an intimate, tribal level
that gathers occupants throughout its porous,
diffusive canopies and layered screen walls. By
offering material turbulence as a primary design
quality, Epiphyte Chamber moves from objective
performance into realms of cultural iconography.
Rather than strictly human-centered power, the
ethics of mutual relations within wide and some-
times alien systems are implied by this work.
The design of Epiphyte Chamber emerged
from the ongoing Hylozoic Series, an open and


image file large
enough to show at
this size?

We moe have a

CONVENTIONS OF CONTROL Interactive exhibit
at the Hong
Kong Polytechnic
Michael Fox and Allyn Polancic School of Design
with students
of interaction
design. Gestural
proximity controls
the opacity of walls
between users.

In the following project, Michael Fox and Allyn applicable to the following architectural systems:
Polancic defined a catalog of architectural partition walls, skylights, doors, windows, light-
gestures for the remote control of dynamic archi- ing, and temperature. Responsive gestures, as an
tectural space, aiming to further characterize the input, can easily evolve into biological sensory
notion of intuition as related to the creation of data and perhaps eliminate the need for a lan-
gestural languages. Conventions of Control used guage in cases like temperature and light control.
a Microsoft Kinect sensor and a series of typical, However, gestures might always be useful for
mechanically driven architectural fenestrations architectural components like openings.
to discover the most referenced categories of The project took an essential first step
relative intuition among test subjects prompted toward facilitating the field of architecture in
to invent gestures for specific architectural playing a role in the development of an agenda
tasks. Their research points out the importance for control. In creating a vocabulary for con-
of body-space relationships with respect to our trolling dynamic architectural environments,
architectural environments. Gestural control is Fox and Polancics research builds on the


Student designs
utilize complex
gestural input
into mechanically
driven facade

exhibit with gesturally
controlled navigational
screens that move
across a wall

state of the art of gestural manipulation, which we already know. The project aimed to discover
exists in integrated touch- and gesture-based the most referenced categories of relative intu-
languages of mobile and media interfaces. The ition among test subjects prompted to invent
next step was to outline architecturally specific gestures for specific architectural tasks.
dynamic situational activities in order to explic- If a user does not have a certain level of
itly understand the potential to utilize gestural technical knowledge, he or she might not be
control in systems that make up architectural able to understand how a component physically
space. A proposed vocabulary was then built works, thus will not be able to operate it with
upon the cross-referenced precedent of even the simplest gesture. Furthermore, ges-
existing intuitive gestural languages as applied tural control is meant to enhance an interactive
to architectural situations. The proposed environment, not burden its users. The ultimate
gestural vocabulary was then tested against purpose of a gesture is to send a signal.
user-generated gestures in the following areas: Whether this signal is used to open, close, or
frequency of invention, learnability, memorabil- rotate, it is up to the programming of the com-
ity, performability, efficiency, and opportunity puter and the mechanics of the architecture
for error. The testing was carried out through not the userto complete the given task.
a test-cell environment with numerous kinetic As a means to explicitly understand gestural
architectural elements and the Kinect sensor control relative to the physical architectural
to track gestures of the test subjects. In the environment, a simple, fully functioning proto-
context of the test cell, subjects were asked to type was developed, consisting of a three-sided
control the various architectural components room with no ceiling. Placed within the wall were
via gesture alone. Movement and body position three motorized windows and a door, each of
were recorded and categorized, creating a which could be independently controlled. The
taxonomy of user-generated intuitive gestures. wall also had a single window that could rotate
Analysis revealed that intuitive gestures come open or closed along the x-axis, and, addition-
from several different gestural languages that ally, a single partition wall that could move

Constructed test
cell for gestural

forward and backward on the y-axis. In terms of manipulate their surroundings through touch.
basic gesture recognition, the Kinect sensor was The experience of architecture may be at first,
used to track the gestures of the test subjects. and primarily, visual, but it is secondly and most
The sensor was an appropriate means of control crucially physical. We use our eyes to experi-
that served to mimic what you would do in the ence an architectural composition in 2-D, almost
real world as opposed to pressing buttons. In as a painting. However, the most engaging
addressing the performance parameters of the experience of architecture comes as the eyes
prototype, the concept focused on several key negotiate distances, proportions, and materials
strategies: (1) gestures, (2) physical move- in relation to the body. This is a physical rela-
ment, and (3) scale. The final objective of the tionship and is always subsequently verified by
approach was to create an innovative design movement through and physical interaction with
that was minimally functional with the capa- the building components. Physically interacting
bility for evolving additional multifunctionality. with the physical world is crucial to the way
Future applications may include motorized roller humans learn to understand reality, and the
shades and/or a table that can slide out from next phase of the projects gestural languages,
the wall. utilized as control interfaces, should reflect this
Exciting possibilities exist for augmented relationship and ideology.
reality to include gestural languages that evolve Beyond this initial exploratory project
into a type of dance, which in turn affects or aimed at understanding gestural interactions
transforms the surrounding environment of at an architectural scale, several subsequent
physically moving building components without projects have been developed by students using
physical labor while actually improving the the more specific gestural capabilities of the
body-space relationship that voice control and Leap Motion sensor. The Leap Motion sensor
similar techniques continue to threaten. This allows for a very localized understanding of
relationship is extremely important in archi- hand gestures in a much smaller sense space,
tecture, as people have a natural tendency to approximately a two-foot virtual cube, above the


Diagram of the
evolution of
gestural language

Diagram of the
origins of intuitive
gestural languages

sensor. Numerous projects have been carried

out at this level of specificity in gestural control,
which bridges the general control and very
specific localized control.
We conclude that the manipulation of phys-
ical building components and physical space
itself is more suited to gestural manipulation
by users instead of manipulation via device,
speech, cognition, or other modes of operation.
In the future it will be possible, if not common-
place, to embed architecture in interfaces to
allow users to interact with their environments,
and we believe that gestural language is the
most powerful means of control through real
physical interactions.

Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani

According to architect Greg Lynn, architecture interactive space, the form and physical con-
is by definition the study and representation of figuration of which can respond to and learn
statics. Architecture of the city must however from its users? And how might such a space
embrace motion, because, as he claims, clas- influence the ways we inhabit our environment,
sical models of pure static essentially timeless thereby changing the way we live? This case
form and structure are no longer adequate. 6 study investigates three interactive installation
How might we imagine a building that can amass projectsAlloplastic Architecture (USC), The
an understanding of its users by studying their Living, Breathing Wall (USC), and Breathing Wall
bodily gestures, expressions, behavior, and (downtown L.A.)that address these questions.
respond accordingly? How might we envision Within these projects lies the attempt to use
a space that possesses an interactivity based emerging technologies, such as Microsoft Kinect
not simply on preprogrammed operations but and the Leap Motion sensor, and thereby under-
on real-time feedback from its users? In other stand new interaction scenarios and techniques
words, how might we envision a genuinely that might inspire future research in this area.


Defining tensegrity
parameters by
coupling different
materials with

The impulse behind all three investigations proportions of buildings to those of the human
into gestural control was a desire to engage with figurefrom Vitruvius and before, through to Le
the psychological benefits of an environment Corbusier and other, more recent architectsare
that can respond toand therefore empathize part and parcel of this history.7 The projects here
withhuman emotions through its capacity to continue that strain not just in how we relate to
adapt physically to the user. As such, the environ- our architectural surroundings, but in how that
ment can be seen to overcome conditions of relationship is important for controlling them.
shock or alienation by accommodating the user. With Alloplastic Architecture, The Living,
To design a biologically adaptive system, the Breathing Wall, and Breathing Wall, the intent
observation of how living creatures constantly was to create spaces that could physically recon-
adapt to different external and internal stimuli in figure themselves based, like any soft adaptive
nature can offer considerable inspiration in terms system in nature, on user movements. As theorist
of both their structural configuration and their Sanford Kwinter observes, soft systems evolve
process of adaptation. The issue is not simply by internal regulating mechanisms yet are always
how to create a system capable of changing, but in collaboration with forces and efforts arriving
how to research the quality of change and define from an outside source.8 Therefore, the central
the stimulus for adaptation. In times when the focus in all the projects described here is the
very concepts of nature and architecture are relationship between material behavior, form, and
questioned not only in a philosophical dimension, interactive systems of control.
but in the core of their biological materiality and In order to most effectively connect the
relationship to humans, we need to reconsider human body to the environment, one might find
how we are connecting to the environment. a logic of behavior shared by the user and the
As the architect and theorist Neil Leach puts surroundings. The result of this logic might be
it: Indeed the history of architecture can be found through the use of dynamic tensegrity
read as a history of the relationship of human structures, designed to adapt to the behavior
beings to their buildings. Attempts to relate the of the user. The advantage of this approach is

In Alloplastic
Architecture, a
performance artist
that the human body itself is a form of tensegrity Another device that was explored in this dances with the
structure, which
structure, with muscles and flexible tissues oper- research project was the use of the Kinect reacts to her
ating in a tensile capacity and bones and other motion sensor, which not only recognizes bodily presence without
any actual physical
rigid members operating mainly in a compressive movements and judges distance and depth, but contact
capacity. If both the body of the user and the also has the capacity to learn from users and
structure of the environment are governed by a adapt to them over time. Technically speak-
similar logic of behavior, then the modeling of the ing, Kinect captures the bodily movement and
behavior of one on that of the other will be all the Cartesian coordinates of the performer in the
more easy to engender. space. Based on digital information captured
Tensegrity structures are, of course, and processed with Processing software, various
nothing new. The term tensegrity was coined nodes of the structure are actuated with the help
by Buckminster Fuller, and successive gen- of an Arduino microcontroller, so the structure
erations of artists, architects, and engineers then bends toward or away from the performer.
have developed the principle with an ever more This project therefore addresses the potential
sophisticated understanding of the behaviors of a reciprocal transformation between user and
of such structures. This project is one of the architectural element, whereby the environment
first, however, to investigate the potential for influences the user and the user equally influ-
these structures to adapt and change their form. ences the environment.
In Alloplastic Architecture, Bouzanjani used Moving beyond capturing bodily movement
shape-memory alloy springs and other devices to of the users, The Living, Breathing Wall explores
operate as muscles capable of realigning a struc- how a physical environment can change its
ture within a constant overall equilibrium. Other shape in response to the speech recognition of
springs and expandable elements maintain the users. The installation consisted of an eight-foot-
equilibrium by adjusting their length to compen- by-twelve-foot (2.4 by 3.7 m) wood structure
sate for an initial movement, thereby reconfigur- covered with tensile membrane fabric (span-
ing the entire structure. dex), aluminum strands, and a grid of fifty-six


Kinect sensor
captures the
bodily movement
and Cartesian
coordinates of the
performer in the

with The Living,
Breathing Wall

shape-memory alloy springs serving as actuators screens, voice-recognition systems seem inev-
augmented with a brain (an Arduino MEGA 2560 itable. Speech recognition facilitates one of the
and Kinect). The wall consisted of eight columns most natural forms of human communication and
and six rows of eyelid-like aluminum strands that can free up the hands and eyes for other tasks.
could open and close with the help of muscle Voice-based UI is potentially very convenient,
springs. As each eyelid closed, it pushed the as it obviates the need for physical gestures and
fabric surface outward to create various textures would seem to be especially convenient for phys-
in the surface. The user interface (UI) in this ically impaired users. Imagine, then, if we were
project was a speech-recognition system (soft- to lie down on our couch and talk to our room so
ware) operating with Kinect (hardware), which that it comes alive and offers us companionship.
recognized sentences and words as inputs and In this case, the installation was programmed
generated dynamic patterns as outputs. Indeed, to respond to various key words in order to
if we are trying to imagine a future in which express specific feelings of happiness, sadness,
we have managed to liberate ourselves from excitement, and so on. A Kinect device had an


drawing of the
assembly and

array of four microphones built in and could there-

fore be used to recognize the words. It then relayed
instructions via an Arduino control board to the
shape-memory alloyactivated aluminum eyelid-like
components that moved in relation to a fabric
surface, creating various bumps or indentations
on the surface. Since each bump on the surface of
the wall acted as a pixel on an addressable grid,
the wall could potentially be controlled to display
ambient information on its surface, providing unob-
trusive content that is relevant to users. Then, if the
resolution of the pixels were increased sufficiently,
the wall could be used to transfer more detailed
content and information.

Breathing Wall
showed how the
use of remote
sensing devices
facilitates an
empowered sense
of embodiment
in participants
and offers an
alternative way to
remotely extend
the range of our
bodies within
our physical

Mobile devices already use techniques Breathing Wall consisted of an eight-by-

grounded in touch- and gesture-based lan- twelve-inch (20.3 by 30.5 cm) wooden structure
guagesswiping, clicking, draggingas an covered with a tensile membrane, direct current
intuitive mechanism of control. But can these (DC) motors, and flexible PVC pipes. Each pipe
techniques be used to control entire environ- was connected to two motors on each anchored
ments? Breathing Wall had two main objectives point, which were capable of twisting and
with this question in mind: First, it explored the deforming the rod. Therefore, various surface
potential for a gesture-based interaction with formations could be generated with various com-
dynamic architectural space through the use mands from users. Early forms of remote devices
of a Leap Motion sensor. Second, and more might include remote controls for televisions or
importantly, it explored the relationship between air-conditioning systems. However, the potential
form and interactive systems of control in order of telekinesis has expanded greatly with the
to generate an empathetic relationship between advent of commercially available remote sensing
users and their environment. devices, such as Kinect, that allow for both


gesture-controlled and voice-controlled operating to those changes and become active agents in
systems. Another productusing technology remodeling and redesigning those environments.
that is not dissimilaris the Leap Motion sensor, As the twenty-first century progresses, we are
which is more limited in its range as a motion witnessing an increasing rise in the number of
sensor but more refined in what it can sense. new technologies in our everyday lives. Some
Leap Motion can detect precise hand and finger may be alarmed by this and find it an aspect of
motions at close range. It has a wide, 150-degree the dark side of our contemporary existence.
field of view and a z-axis for depth. The sensor Bouzanjanis projects seek to demonstrate and
detects the movements of the users as they move illustrate how interactive architecture has the
their hands in three dimensions, with various ability to create nurturing conditions in which
gestures such as swiping, drawing circles, and human beings engage in an empathetic rela-
clicking on points in the space, in turn activating tionship with their environment. Through such
the surface of the wall. In the future, it may even relationships, they might overcome their sense
be possible to design a direct interface that allows of alienation such that they become part of their
users to interact with their environment without environment and their environment, in turn,
any intermediary mechanism. Such interfaces will becomes part of them.
make control of our physical environment much
easier and more intimate.
Together, these installations offer a vision of
the future of our living spaces by demonstrating
three interactive prototypes. They also engage in
a series of interdisciplinary challenges, ranging
from attaining a technological grasp of how such
environments might change morphologically to
gaining a psychological and neurological grasp
of how human beings might themselves respond


This book was in the making for many years, while FOREWORD
1 For more about the activities of
I was, in a sense, waiting on the profession. Clearly, the Interactive Architecture Lab at
such a book would not have been possible without the Bartlett School of Architecture,
University College London, see www.
the great work of many fantastic architects and
designers who made the generous contributions of 2 Nancy Lohman Staub, Breaking
Boundaries: American Puppetry in the
their amazing work. Thanks to those at Princeton 1980s (Atlanta, GA: Center for Puppetry
Architectural Press, especially Jennifer Lippert for Arts, 1992), 20.
her support and Barbara Darko for both her editing 3 Rodney Brooks, Natural Born Robots:
Body Builders, Scientific American
skills and her constant nudging. I also greatly Frontiers, season 10, episode 2, directed
appreciate the many people who looked at various by Graham Chedd and Andrew Liebman
(1999; Alexandria, VA: PBS).
parts of the text, including Kenny On, Adriana 4 Harold B. Segel, Pinocchios Progeny:
Fuentes, and Jicheng Shen. I would like to thank my Puppets, Marionettes, Automatons, and
Robots in Modernist and Avant-Garde
amazing wife, Juintow Lin, and little Juneau, Ori, Drama, PAJ Books (Baltimore: Johns
and Io, who just like to see their names in books. Hopkins University Press, 1995), 2.
Thanks to all those in my family, who mean so much. INTRODUCTION
Thanks also to Bill Porter, who probably has no idea 1 Neil Leach, ed., Urban Architecture 97
how much he inspired me at MIT. Finally, thanks for (September 2012): 8.
2 Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani, Alloplastic
the many interesting conversations that have taken Architecture: The Design of an
place, further shaping the book and inspiring its Interactive Tensegrity Structure
(presentation, ACADIA conference,
completion. I hope this book inspires new ways of University of Waterloo, Cambridge, Ontario,
exploring. October 2427, 2013).
3 Gordon Pask, The Architectural
Relevance of Cybernetics, Architectural
Design (September 1969): 49496.
4 John Frazer, An Evolutionary Architec-
ture, Themes VII (London: Architectural
Association Publications, 1995).
5 Adam Greenfield, Everyware: The
Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
(Berkeley, CA: New Riders, 2006).
6 National Cable & Telecommunications
Association, Broadband by the
NumbersAn Internet Built for All: Fast,
Affordable and Competitive, NCTA,
accessed March 29, 2015.
7 Stan Schneider, Understanding the
Protocols behind the Internet of Things,
Electronic Design, October 9, 2013,
8 Ibid.
9 Mat Honan, Our Dream of the
Connected Home Could Become a
Nightmare, WIRED, August 6, 2014,
10 Jennifer Stein, Scott S. Fisher, and
Greg Otto, Interactive Architecture:


Connecting and Animating the Built understanding-of-human-nature. CATALYZE
Environment with the Internet of Printed in John Brockman, ed.,The New 1 Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics: Or
Things (workshop, Internet of Things Humanists (New York: Barnes & Noble Control and Communication in the
Conference 2010, Tokyo, Japan, Books, 2003), 3351. Animal and the Machine (Cambridge,
November 29December 1, 2010). 3 Philip E. Ross, Harman Cancels Out MA: MIT Press, 1948).
11 Ibid. Road Noise, Without Headphones, IEEE 2 Sanford Kwinter, Soft Systems, in
12 Hiroshi Ishii and Brygg Ullmer, Tangible Spectrum, last modified October 30, Culture Lab 1, ed. Brian Boigon (New
Bits: Towards Seamless Interfaces 2014, York: Princeton Architectural Press,
between People, Bits and Atoms, think/transportation/systems/harman- 1993), 20728.
in Proceedings of the ACM CHI 97 cancels-road-noise. 3 See Martin Heidegger, The Question
Human Factors in Computing Systems 4 Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Concerning Technology, in Basic
Conference (1997): 23441. Amar Cheema, Is Noise Always Bad? Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (New
13 Eva Hornecker, Tangible Interaction, Exploring the Effects of Ambient York: Harper Collins, 1993), 31141.
Interaction Design Foundation, Noise on Creative Cognition, 4 Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani, Alloplastic
accessed August 16, 2013, http://www. Journal of Consumer Research 39, Architecture: The Design of an no. 4 (December 2012): 78499, doi: Interactive Tensegrity Structure, in
tangible_interaction.html. 10.1086/665048. ACADIA 2013 Adaptive Architecture:
14 Ian Daly, Data Cycle: Behind MITs 5 Processing is available for download at Proceedings of the 33rd Annual
SENSEable Cities Lab, WIRED, April Conference of the Association
2011, for Computer Aided Design in
archive/2011/04/features/data-cycle/ EVOLVE Architecture, ed. Philip Beesley, Omar
page/3. 1 John Frazer, An Evolutionary Khan, and Michael Stacey (Cambridge,
15 Bouzanjani, Alloplastic Architecture. Architecture, Themes VII (London: ON: Riverside Architectural Press,
Architectural Association Publications, 2013): 12936.
EXHILARATE 1995), 11. 5 John Frazer, An Evolutionary
1 William Zuk and Roger H. Clark, Kinetic 2 Frazer, An Evolutionary Architecture, Architecture, Themes VII (London:
Architecture (New York: Van Nostrand 13. Architectural Association Publications,
Reinhold, 1970), 9. 3 Richard Veryard, Emergent 1995), 7.
2 Kostas Terzidis, Expressive Architecture, Richard Veryard on 6 Greg Lynn, An Advanced Form of
Form: A Conceptual Approach to Architecture (blog), March 17, 2011, Movement, Architectural Design 67
Computational Design (London: Spon (May/June 1997), 5459.
Press, 2003), 33. emergent-architecture.html. 7 Neil Leach, Adaptation, in
3 Ibid., 45. 4 Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Biomimetics: Unconventional Computing: Design
4 Cheng-An Pan and Taysheng Jeng, Biologically Inspired Technologies Methods for Adaptive Architecture,
Exploring Sensing-Based Kinetic (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2005), 3. ed. Rachel Armstrong and Simone
Design for Responsive Architecture, 5 Yoseph Bar-Cohen and Cynthia L. Ferracina (Cambridge, Ontario:
in Beyond Computer-Aided Design: Breazeal, eds., Biologically Inspired Riverside Architectural Press, 2013),
Proceedings of the 13th International Intelligent Robots, (Bellingham, WA: 13031.
Conference on Computer-Aided SPIE Publications, 2003), xiii. 8 Kwinter, Soft Systems, 218.
Architectural Design Research in Asia 6 Arnim von Gleich et al., Potentials
(CAADRIA) (Chiang Mai, Thailand: and Trends in Biomimetics (Berlin:
Association for Computer-Aided Springer, 2010), 1922.
Architectural Design Research in Asia, 7 Toni Kotnik and Michael Weinstock,
2008), 28592. Material, Form and Force,
Architectural Design 82, no. 2 (March/
COMMUNICATE April 2012): 10411.
1 Nikos A. Salingaros, Towards 8 Ibid.
a Biological Understanding of 9 Blaine Brownell, Transmaterial: A
Architecture and Urbanism: Lessons Catalog of Materials That Redefine
From Steven Pinker, Katarxis, Our Physical Environment (New York:
September 2004, http://www. Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), 10.
Understanding.htm. 10 Michelle Addington and Daniel
2 Steven Pinker, A Biological Schodek, Smart Materials and
Understanding of Human Nature: Technologies in Architecture: For the
A Talk with Steven Pinker,Edge. Architecture and Design Professions
org,September 8, 2002, https:// (Oxford: Architectural Press, 2005), 8395.


EXHILARATE Design Team: Timothy Francis, MEGAFACES

Jonathan Wimmel, Elana Pappoff Year: 2014
MAY/SEPTEMBER Fabrication: Pylon Technical (motion Location: Sochi, Russia
Year: 2014 control software and custom electronics); Client/Institution/Sponsor: MegaFon
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Peter Welch, Daniela Morales, Travis Designer: Asif Khan Ltd.
Client/Institution/Sponsor: Schlink, Joshua Mun, Darius Woo, Lisa Interactive Engineering: iart
Eskenazi Hospital of Marion County Hollywood, Rafael Rocha, Yohannes Agency and Project Management: Axis
Designer: Rob Ley / Urbana Baynes, Phillip Ramirez Structural Engineering: AKT II
Design Team: Loren Frances Adams, Photography Credits: Alan Tansey Local Architect: Progress
Maxwell Miller Photography Credits: Asif Khan Ltd.
Fabrication: Indianapolis Fabrications
Structural Engineering: Nous COMMUNICATE
Engineering, Fink Roberts & Petrie MEDIATE
Photography Credits: Alan Tansey LIGHTSWARM
TECHNORAMA FACADE Location: San Francisco, California, USA Year: 2008
Year: 2002 Client/Institution/Sponsor: Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Location: Winterthur, Switzerland Commissioned by Yerba Buena Center Client/Institution/Sponsor: Abu Dhabi
Client/Institution/Sponsor: Technorama, for the Arts Investment Council
the Swiss Science Center Designers: Jason Kelly Johnson, Nataly Designer: Abdulmajid Karanouh, Aedas
Designer: NedKahn Gattegno, Ripon DeLeon Architects, Head of Ramboll Innovation
Architects: Durig and Rami Design Team: Fernando Amenedo, Jeff Design
Fabrication: NedKahn Studios Maeshiro, Ji Ahn, Katarina Richter, Nainoa Design Team: Pablo Miranda, Diar Consult
Photography Credits: NedKahn Cravalho Structural Engineering: Arup
Fabrication: MACHINIC Digital Photography Credits:
WINDSWEPT Fabrication & Consulting
Year: 2011 Photography Credits: Peter Prato KFW WESTARKADE TOWER
Location: San Francisco, California, USA Year: 2010
Client/Institution/Sponsor: PLINTHOS Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Year: 2014 Client/Institution/Sponsor: KfW
Commission for a permanent installation Location: Athens, Greece Bankengruppe
at the Randall Museum Client/Institution/Sponsor: Designers: Matthias Sauerbruch,
Designer: Charles Sowers Studios Commissioned by the ID10 Interior Design Louisa Hutton, Juan Lucas Young /
Fabrication: Spacesonic Precision Sheet Show Sauerbruch Hutton
Metal, QC Facades Designers: Franky Antimisiaris and Project Leader: Tom Geister
Structural Engineering: Hom-Pisano Branko M. Berlic / MAB Architecture, Design Team: Jrgen Bartenschlag,
Engineering Stavros Didakis Peter Rieder, Marc Broquetas
Installation: Rocket Science Photography Credits: Christos Drazos Maduell, Christine Neuhoff, Barbara
Photography Credits: Bruce Diamonte, Sellwig, Cynthia Grieshofer, Axel
San Francisco Arts Commission BALLS! Linde, Andrea Frensch, Lina Lahiri
Year: 2014 Site Supervisors: Anton Bhr,
REEF Location: London, England, UK Angelika Fehn-Krestas, Claudius
Year: 2009 Client/Institution/Sponsor: Arup Gelleri, Tanja Kausch-Lchelt, Timm
Location: New York, New York, USA Design Team: Alma-nac and Ruairi Glynn, Knief, Daniela McCarthy, Mathias
Client/Institution/Sponsor: Tim Hunt, Francesco Anselmo Mund, Christiane Schmidt, Marcus
Storefront for Art and Architecture; Structural Engineering: Interactive von der Oelsnitz
Supported by the AIA Upjohn Research Architecture Lab, Bartlett Faculty of the Electrical Engineering: Reuter
Initiative, the Graham Foundation for Built Environment, University College Rhrgartner GmbH
Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the London Structural Engineering: Werner
AIA Knowledge Grant, and Interior Design Software Programming: Felix Faire, Sobek Frankfurt GmbH & Co. KG
Educators Council Special Projects Grant; Francesco Anselmo Photography Credits: Jan Bitter, Nosh
Additional support and assistance Project Manager: Craig Irvine
provided by Dynalloy Photography Credits: Annabel Staff, ECO-29
Designers: Rob Ley / Rob Ley Studio, Tucker Productions (film stills) Year: 2013
Joshua G. Stein / Radical Craft Location: Hadera, Israel
Interaction Concept and Development: Client/Institution/Sponsor:
Active Matter Yosi Yahalom and Alon Talom


Interaction Concept and Design: Consultants: Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter Designers: CPP students: Allyn Polancic,
FoxLin Architects, Brahma Architects (design), Matthew Melnyk (structural Rigo Gonzales, Sho Ikuda, Sizheng Chen,
Project Architect: Eran Shemish / Brahma engineering) Craig Aguilar, Cyrus Azari, Eric Mercado,
Architects Design Team: Dylan Wood (project Kuniko Nickel, Jeffery Vanvoorhis, Jeff
Electronics: Soundnine, Darius Miller coordinator), Kristi Butterworth, Ali Kerns, Junsin Miramontes, Michelle
Photography Credits: Eran Shemish Chen, Renata Ganis, Derek Greene, Julia Labininay
Michalski, Sayo Morinaga, Evan Shieh Photography Credits: Michael Fox
SMART HIGHWAY Photography Credits: Brandon Shigeta,
Year: 2012present Derek Greene, Doris Sung, Gerard ALLOPLASTIC ARCHITECTURE
Location: Province Brabant, City of Smulevich Year: 20122014
Eindhoven, City of Oss, and BKKC, Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Netherlands SHAPESHIFT Client/Institution/Sponsor: Mobile
Client/Institution/Sponsor: Year: 2010 and Environmental Media Lab (MEML),
Joint venture with Studio Roosegaarde Location: Zurich, Switzerland University of Southern California (USC)
and Heijmans Infrastructure; support Client/Institution/Sponsor: Starkart Designer: Behnaz Farahi Bouzanjani
provided by Province Brabant, City of gallery; Chair for Computer-Aided Performance Artist: Nicole Ives
Eindhoven, City of Oss, and BKKC Architectural Design, Institute of Photography Credits: Behnaz Farahi
Designer: Studio Roosegaarde Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich Bouzanjani
Engineer: Heijmans Infrastructure Designer: Manuel Kretzer
Photography Credits: Daan Roosegaarde Design Team: Edyta Augustynowicz, Sofia
Georgakopoulou, Dino Rossi, Stefanie Sixt
Image Credits: Edyta Augustynowicz
EVOLVE Photography Credits: Manuel Kretzer

Year: 2012; 2013 CATALYZE
Location: Paris, France
Client/Institution/Sponsor: EPIPHYTE CHAMBER
Commissioned by the Centre Georges Year: 2013
Pompidou, Paris, for its permanent Location: Seoul, South Korea
collection (first shown in the exhibition Client/Institution/Sponsor: Museum of
Multiversits Cratives in 2012); Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul
Commissioned by the FRAC Centre Designer: Philip Beesley
Orlans (first shown as part of ArchiLabs Design Team: Martin Correa, Jonathan
Naturalizing Architecture exhibition in Gotfryd, Andrea Ling, PBAI Studio, Sue
2013) Balint, Matthew Chan, Vikrant Dasoar,
Designers: Achim Menges, Oliver David Faisal Kubba, Salvador Mirand, Connor
Krieg, Steffen Reichert OGrady, Anne Paxton, Eva Pianezzola,
Photography Credits: ICD University of Sheida Shahi, May Wu, Mingyi Zhou
Stuttgart Fabrication: Parantap Bhatt, Jessica
Carroll, Gelene Celis, Rayana Hossain,
BLOOM Nada Kawar, Yonghan Kim, Pedro Lima,
Year: 2011 Parham Rahimi Kearon, Roy Taylor, Cheon
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA Hari, Hanjun JoBoram Kim, Yonghan Kim,
Client/Institution/Sponsor: Materials & Taehyung (Richard) Kim, Hyeon Min Lee,
Application Gallery, AIA Upjohn Research Gyoung Hun Park, Sudam Park, Nuri Shin
Initiative, Arnold W. Brunner Award, Photography Credits: Philip Beesley
Graham Foundation Grant, University of
Southern California (USC) Advancing CONVENTIONS OF CONTROL
Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Year: 20122013
Sciences Program, USC Undergraduate Location: Los Angeles, California, USA,
Research Associates Program, Woodbury and Tianjin, China
Faculty Development Grant; in-kind Client/Institution/Sponsor: California
donations from Engineered Materials State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Solutions (CPP) and Tianjin University; support
Architect: Doris Kim Sung / DOSU Studio provided by theProgram of Introducing
Architecture Talents of Discipline to Universities (Grant
number: B13011)


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2016 Michael Fox

All rights reserved
Printed and bound in China
19 18 17 16 4 3 2 1 First edition

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any

manner without written permission from the publisher, except
in the context of reviews.

Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify

owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected
in subsequent editions.

Project Editor: Barbara Darko

Designer: Jan Haux

Special thanks to: Nicola Bednarek Brower, Janet Behning,

Erin Cain, Tom Cho, Benjamin English, Jenny Florence,
Jan Cigliano Hartman, Lia Hunt, Mia Johnson, Valerie Kamen,
Simone Kaplan-Senchak, Stephanie Leke, Diane Levinson,
Jennifer Lippert, Sarah McKay, Jaime Nelson, Rob Shaeffer,
Sara Stemen, Kaymar Thomas, Paul Wagner, Joseph Weston,
and Janet Wong of Princeton Architectural Press
Kevin C. Lippert, publisher

Front cover: Lightswarm, Future Cities Lab, 2014

Photograph by Peter Prato

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Interactive architecture : adaptive world / Michael Fox, editor.
First edition.
pages cm. (Architecture briefs)
ISBN 978-1-61689-406-1 (paperback)
1. Architecture and technology. 2. Intelligent buildings.
3. ArchitectureTechnological innovations. I. Fox, Michael,
1967 August 22- editor.
NA2543.T43I59 2015