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 technology counterparts, creatively bring customizability by integrating large, building scale kinetic elements.
These kinetic elements regulate the environmental conditioning of the interior. More than just an operable window, these elements take on kinetic 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 celebrate and make essential their capacity for change and manipulation. This attitude begs the question: why not visualize and celebrate the mutability of architecture? Perhaps, the visualization of transformation can be a design asset, rather than something to be hidden and integrated through automated technology systems.
May this collection move you to reconsider your attitude toward smart architecture in the context of these mutable, kinetic buildings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The large, folding garage door of this house opens to reveal an exposed double-height living space.