Morphing Kinetower Skyscraper Concept Is a Mind (and Literal) Bender

by , 03/17/11
filed under: Architecture

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In an interview with Kinetic Architecture, architects Barbara van Biervliet and Xaveer Claerhout explained that fixed or static design can no longer compete in a world where communication and transportation are developing at breakneck pace. They do believe in the ‘form follows function’ approach, so the dynamic outer skin for their building is more than just a fancy trick. It also works as an energy-regulator that breathes (you could call it) in and out depending on the available sunlight.

Asked how the panels move and at what speed, Claerhout says that each application requires a different solution, but that movement is a lever to metamorphism (what they dub their design philosophy) rather than the end goal. They do, however, specify that having flexible materials that can be “rigidified” is an important aspect, as that allows the structure to respond to its environment. Although they’re still developing the technology and therefore don’t have many concrete specs yet, the movie above shows how this extraordinary building “comes to life.”

+ Kinetura

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  1. RCL March 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    One thing else that would have to be carefully investigated are the changing stress loads placed on the building as the walls open and close. A building of any size will have huge wind loads placed upon it and the changing configuration could tear it apart.

    The Tacoma Narrows bridge was an elegant design that failed disastrously because the harmonics created in even a relatively mild wind shook the structure to pieces.

  2. GiantReflector March 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    It’s lovely and I agree that buildings can and should be responsive. I love how the openings flex to become lense like shapes. I’m assuming that, being a sky-scraper, it’s meant to be built in an urban environment and, if so, a couple of things stand out to me as a bit troublesome.

    First, natural light and other ambient conditions are not reliable in urban environments because of other buildings or “urban canyons”. The light and climate you build around may change as other buildings come and go.

    Also, there seems to be a great deal of open or non-usable space inside. While it’s lovely and may be necessary for the interior climate or ambience, it would render your eventual realestate quite expensive. The sexy moat fits this category.

    Noise, of course, could be a consideration on the lower floors.

    I love the idea overall and hope you continue to investigate!

  3. RCL March 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    It’s certainly art and an interesting concept. It looks like it requires materials that haven’t been invented yet.

    Love the moat.

    Isn’t it really just a solution in search of a problem? It’s not just light that’s the issue. Tall buildings suffer from the chimney effect. Even absent that, a building of any height would expose the interior spaces to excessive winds. It would be like living in a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

  4. Aviva Weisgal March 18, 2011 at 8:52 am

    The movie is nice, but the music is not right for it…I wonder what it would be like to live or work in a building like that…

  5. lazyreader March 18, 2011 at 7:44 am

    It looks like hair curlers.

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