10 Kinetic Buildings With Analogue Environmental Controls

These buildings openly celebrate their capacity for change.

Lindsey May Lindsey May

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In today’s conversation around “smart” architecture, the integration of sensing and responsive technology systems pervades the conversation. Self-regulating technology systems can regulate temperature, light, energy management, safety, and other conditions. Conversely, as highlighted by the projects featured here, there exists a long genealogy of buildings that use transformative and mobile elements to control the same set of comfort factors. These buildings, ostensibly “dumb” as compared to their high-tech counterparts, creatively bring customizability by integrating large-scale kinetic elements into their façades.

These kinetic elements regulate the environmental conditioning of the interior. More than just an operable window, these elements take on kineticism as a fundamental design objective. Panels at the scale of a wall slide, fold, pivot and transform the building climatically and visually. Unlike “smart” architecture that invisibly manipulates the building without the involvement of a person, these buildings openly celebrate their capacity for change.

May this collection move you to reconsider your attitude toward smart architecture in the context of these mutable, kinetic buildings.

Badehaus Am Kaiserstrand (Bathhouse) by Lang + Schwärzler, Am Kaiserstrand, Lochau, Austria

Kinetic Façade manufactured by i+R | Holzbau | GmbH

The façade of this building decomposes on all four sides of the rectangular volume. Transforming from a closed box to a totally porous pavilion, this building is a true environmental and visual transformer.

Kids Pod by Mihaly Slocombe, Merricks, Australia

Siding and Shutters manufacturered by Radial Timber Sales

Perforated wood panels fold up around this children’s play building. The large gesture is a demonstrative one and transforms the pod from play to a sleeping area at night.

Passive House Near Paris by Karawitz Architecture, Bessancourt, France

The double skin façade is composed of a layer of windows and a series of movable panels separated by a narrow catwalk. In addition to the thoroughly passive elements including photovoltaic panels on the roof and the use of bamboo, this kinetic system of panels modulates light and air into the interior of this passively conditioned house.

House with Balls by Matharoo Associates, Ahmedabad, India

Concrete baubles provide the counterweight to large pivoting panels in this concrete house for an aquarium store owner. The windows swing open and allow air and light to flow through the living space.

Parkpalette In Coesfeld-Lette by Birk Heilmeyer und Frenzel Architekten, NRW, Germany

The uniform, slatted cladding of this parking garage masks the location of the folding door when the doors are closed. However, when deployed, the doors animate a full-height section of the building.

Social Pavilion at an Olympic Shooting Range by JOFRE ROCA ARQUITECTAS, Miami Platja, Spain

This squat corten steel building sits staunchly, resisting the strong winds across the plain. The front of the building that faces the shooting range opens up with operable panels to become a social space of shelter. The scale of the building allows for a single person to be able to manipulate the façade.

F40 Office Building by PETERSEN ARCHITEKTEN, Berlin, Germany

Rolling bands of textile shade this glazed façade. The sheer material maintains views and diffuses light to penetrate the space. The textile can retract to expose the full façade to daylighting.

Helmholtz-Institute for Electrochemical Energy Storage HUI, University of Ulm by Nickl & Partner Architekten, Renchen, Germany

The panelized façade system camouflages the location of the folding panels amongst the static panels. The ambiguity of the kinetic panels implies that the entire façade has the capacity for change and imbues the skin with an expectant animation.

Lofts at Cherokee Studios by Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa) Architects, Los Angeles, Calif., United States

The varying sizes, colors, and positions of the folding metal skin reinforce the residential program and the unique lives of each inhabitant.

Town House With a Folding-Up Shutter by MM++ Architects / MIMYA, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The large, folding garage door of this house opens to reveal an exposed double-height living space.

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