Kinetic Architecture

In architecture, the notion of motion is often represented as an abstract formal configuration that implies relationships of cause and effect. Deformation, juxtaposition, superimposition, absence, disturbance, and repetition, are just few of the techniques used by architects to express virtual motion and change. These approaches are based on the idea that perpetual succession is not only conceived directly through physical motion but also indirectly through formal expression. Physical motion, other than in doors, windows, elevators, or escalators, is not commonly present in buildings. In fact, the form and structure of the average building suggests stability, steadiness, sturdiness, and immobility. Yet, while motion may suggest agility, unpredictability, or uncertainty it may also suggest change, anticipation, and liveliness. Challenging past practices, architecture today finds itself in a position to revisit its traditional kinetic aesthetics with new technological innovations. Through the use of sensors, actuators, and micro-controllers, actual controlled motion can be designed, integrated, and implemented in, on, or across buildings. The traditional problematics of motion, stasis, and order are challenged, redefined, and transformed by new spatio-temporal possibilities and strategies opened up through technological innovation, particularly robotic technologies and new approaches to mobility, portability, and nomadic culture. This course will examine the notion of motion in architecture through virtual and physical methods. It will seek to investigate, explore, and propose how motion can be suggested, depicted, or physically incorporated in buildings or structures. The goal is to link past practices related to kinetic form with motion-based emerging technologies in a meaningful way and project into the inherent architectural possibilities. The area of kinetic architecture, i.e. the integration of motion into the built environment, and the impact such results has upon the aesthetics, design, and performance of buildings may be of great importance to the field of architecture. While the aesthetic value of virtual motion may always be a source of inspiration, its physical implementation in buildings and structures may challenge the very nature of what architecture really is. Pedagogical Objectives: The pedagogical value of this course is to serve as a theoretical framework, a technical skill-builder, and a source for design inspiration. The course will engage both in theory and practice. The theoretical part will explore, discuss, and critically evaluate conceptual approaches to kinetic design. The practical part will involve design experimentation and model construction using robotics technologies. The final project involves the design of a building where motion is an essential part of the program. The course will demand a willingness to explore a range of disciplines including architecture as well as mechanics, electronics, and software that are part of the engineering of kinetic environments. The course will involve also a laboratory for designing and building working models of kinetic structures. No previous experience with computer hardware or software is required, though the work will demand a variety of skills beyond those traditionally found in architecture design studios. Completion Requirements: There will be a midterm exam and two modeling exercises leading to a final design project presented to a jury.