Dynamic architecture: designing mobile reactive structures


Framework f5x5x5, Kunst-station Sankt Peter, Koln, 2010. Photo © Stephan Brendgen

Dynamic components and adaptive and interactive elements are becoming more and more important in contemporary architecture and design.

Architecture defines forms and functions, or in other words, how space shapes according to time. Most of the time, and at least in architecture, the applicable timescale is ranging from years to days, and human activities or environmental parameters as sun illumination, traffic or daily tasks, define spaces that we name office, house or station. But what if space or shape could change in a direct and real time relation? First the subset of parameters could be extended, so that spaces or objects react to human presence or telecommunication flows. In architecture or design, the shape as such is static. The study of dynamic shapes requires an understanding of time and motion.

This workshop was be mainly devoted to these two topics, eventually answering the question of how to program shape according to time, motion and contextual parameters, while simultaneously elaborating and realising kinetic sculptures, models or prototypes.

Practically, each participant imagined and produced a model or a kinetic installation made out of wood, cardboard and paper actuated with smart memory alloy, a metal string or muscle wire which can contract and expand under the influence of electrical current. Using several of these wires, the participants formed electrical circuits which could be driven by a micro-controller, opening the way to the use of generative programming, time control or sequencing, and the usage of sensors, data sets or any other information. Suspended structures actuated like in puppetry, folding or dynamically textured surfaces, expanding volumes was first imagined and then realised.

Conceptual, practical and technical approaches were simultaneously presented.

The outcome of the workshop was imagined in the direction of ‘mobile’ interactive/reactive structures. This kind of technique can be used in architectural design and art installations and refers to the notion of space as a constantly reconfigured responsive structure.

LAb[au] is an internationally renowned artist group which was founded 1997 in Brussels, Belgium with the aim to examine the influence of advanced technologies in the forms, methods and content of art. Present members are: Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock, and Els Vermang. The name ‘LAb[au]’ merges a phonetic and a written meaning; that of the French / Dutch pronunciation ‘labo’ and that of the German word ‘bau’ referring to its projects’ experimental approach (labo) and construct (bau).

They developed a transdisciplinary and collaborative approach based on different artistic, scientific and theoretic methods, examining the transformation of architecture and spatio-temporal structures in accordance to the technological progress within a practice entitled ‘MetaDeSIGN’. Metadesign [ meta = information about information ] displays the theme of space-constructs relative to information processes – architecture as a code. It concerns the transposition of inFORMational processes in n-dimensional (visual, sonic, spatial,…) form.

Lab[au] mainly investigates the new ways of communication in architecture and art within the interactive, reactive and generative realm. LAb[au]’s experimental and innovative art practice focuses on fundamental research on contemporality in art.

Workshop’s curator: Anna Titovets (Plums Fest).

On July 19th the members of LAb[au] will also conduct a lecture, where they will explain their approach to the interactive, generative and performative processes in art and architecture.


Example of kinetic sound installation “Tessel” with similar technique used

‘Move: Architecture in motion’, Michael Schumacher – to illustrate the significance of kinetics in architecture, design and urbanism

‘Folding techniques for designers’, Paul Jackson – to illustrate the possibilities of paper folding

Do also have a look at MIT’s High-Low Tech Group project site ‘The Fine Art of Electronics’- to illustrate sma techniques