Transformable Design Methods

The aim of Transformable Design is to is to introduce new ways of thinking about design through real-time morphological changes. The course provides a theoretical overview and practical methods for designing objects that can change their size, shape and surface.

Class sessions will generally consist of a lecture followed by discussion and review of project assignments. Several workshops will also be offered on software and hardware techniques. All classes are in-person.

Lecture topics include introduction to mechanisms theory, classification of transformable behaviors (e.g. expansion, morphing, retraction, folding, etc.), design methods to produce behavior types, as well as practical techniques, for construction and automated control. The concepts presented will be reinforced though physical experimentation and software simulations.

This course involves use of CAD software to produce simulations and animations of mechanisms, however, no prerequisite software skills are required and workshops will be offered on Grasshopper/Rhino on these topics:

  • Applying parametric methods to different types of transformable structures
  • Modeling and simulating transformable mechanics within the software environment
  • Analyzing motion and dynamic performance

Course assignments will be staged in two parts. For the first part, students will create a series of mechanism studies – both in physical and virtual form. These assignments will reinforce understanding of lecture topics as well as provide a hands-on familiarity with mechanical interaction. For the second part, students will form groups (2-4 students) to produce a functional project demonstrating physical transformation. Groups may choose the project emphasis according to their particular interests. Projects may range from full-scale operable architectural sections to scale-models that focus on broader architectural context. This project offers the opportunity for creative engagement and original thinking about new possibilities for transformable architecture.

Grades are based on the quality of the research, submitted assignments (inclusive of the final group project), and class participation. There is a final review and participation is required for this session.