Sarah Rich

SHAPE-SHIFTING BUILDINGS

by , 09/23/06

tensegrity, shapeshifting buildings, smart architecture technology
photo: Tristan d’EstrZe Sterk, oframBFRA.com

Much of the talk about future-forward shelter design revolves around changing our perception of habitable spaces from static to dynamic structures. Particularly in prefab, architects are pushing the idea of the home as a large-scale appliance — something that serves and adapts to our changing lives. A recent Wired article brought this idea to light in the context of building design, where the entire envelope of a “smart” skyscraper can be designed to flex with changes in weather, climate and traffic.


The article discusses tensegrity — an idea closely tied to Bucky Fuller’s work with geodesic domes and achieving structural integrity by balancing pressure and tension amongst component parts. Researcher Tristan d’Estree Sterk, from the Office for Robotic Architectural Media & The Bureau for Responsive Architecture, says:

” ‘Shape-changing envelopes offer architects the ability to produce buildings that condition themselves in very simple, natural and sustainable ways…They enable buildings to be conceived of as systems that change shape to improve the way people live.’

Imagine a high-rise tower that braces itself against sudden strong winds by distributing stresses. Or a home that shakes the snow from its roof.

‘Building skins clad in new generations of energy-making materials could alter their form to track the sun, enable greater shading or sunlight penetration while also producing energy,’ says Sterk. ‘A building like this could even eliminate the need for air conditioning by using shape to improve ventilation rates.’”

This takes the idea of interactive architecture to a new level, bringing environmental sensitivity into the walls of a building such that disaster prevention and energy conservation become much easier to anticipate and respond to with precision.

via: Wired News

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