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DESIGNER
MICHAEL FOX, AXEL KILIAN, RAN ORON
DATE
2001
LOCATION
MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA
TYPE
experimental
USE
Façade element
Interactive Kinetic Façade

The MIT Kinetic Design Group presented an extensive amount of research projects exploring intelligent systems. The “Interactive kinetic façade” is a proposal for an architectural-scale installation that creates an add-on layer to the lower level of a building’s envelope. The objective was to create a dynamic surface that has the ability to respond to pedestrian activity. More specifically, every time a pedestrian walks by, the bars sway toward that direction in a wave-like motion. Even though each one of the bars moves in a simple fashion, their combined action creates complex patterns. The movement of the bars is controlled through sensors programmed to track an individual’s motion, point towards the “target” and follow it. The adjacent rows sense the movement and start wobbling, affecting that way the motion of the others, and so on. The visual result can be regarded as the kinetic diagram of the pedestrian’s flow. The Group tested the proposal creating a tile of the façade in a 1:1 working prototype.

TRANSFORMABLE DESIGN FEATURES AT A GLANCE
PRINCIPLE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
folding
ACTUAL
sliding
TYPE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
linear elements
ACTUAL
linear moving elements
SYSTEM
responsive
ELEMENTS
Whole structure
Application Framework
Enclosed Space Open Space
Private Space Public Space
Passive Communication Active
Project Scale
Kinetic Elements Scale
Equipment
People
Intensity of Activity
Fluctuation of Intensity
Periodicity of Fluctuation
Design
New Design Intervention
Requires Support Self Supported
Simple Geometry Complex Geometry
Low Tech High Tech
Manual System Intelligent System
Surface Transformation
Volume Transformation
Morphological Variations
Modularity
Portability
Adaptability
Sustainability
Materials
Conventional Sophisticated
Elastic Rigid
Transparent Opaque
Warm Cold
Weight
Maintenance
Insulation
COST (estimation)

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Image source:

1, 2: Fox, M., & Kemp, M. (2009). Interactive architecture. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 146.

Further Reading:

designexplorer.net/projectpages/facade.html