ShapeShift is an experiment in future possibilities of architectural materialization. This project explores the potential application of electro-active polymer (EAP) at an architectural scale. EAP offers a new relationship to built space through its unique combination of qualities. It is an ultra-lightweight, flexible material with the ability to change shape without the need for mechanical actuators. As a collaboration between the chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (ETHZ) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), ShapeShift bridges gaps between advanced techniques in architectural design/fabrication and material science as well as pushing academic research towards real world applications.


Homeostatic Facade System

Contemporary double-skin glass facade systems for large buildings have both an exterior glass curtain wall and an interior glass surface that are separated by an air cavity. The air cavities often include shading mechanisms and vents that enable the system to automatically regulate heat loss and heat gain.

Our design for a homeostatic facade system advances double-skin technologies by taking advantage of the unique flexibility and low power consumption of dielectric elastomers. Our ribbon design opens and closes to control solar heat gain through the facade.

Automatically responding to environmental conditions, this highly tuned motion is achieved through a simple, elegant actuator. The actuator is an artificial muscle, consisting of a dielectric elastomer wrapped over a flexible polymer core. Expansion and contraction of the elastomer causes the flexible core to bend. A roller at the top of the polymer core ensures smooth motion as the elastomer moves.

The dielectric elastomer includes silver electrodes on both faces. The silver assists the system by reflecting and diffusing light, while distributing an electrical charge across the elastomer, causing it to deform.

Inspired by homeostasis in biological systems, our facade regulates a building’s climate by automatically responding to environmental conditions. Its advantage over conventional systems lies in its low power consumption and superior precision. Because the surface material is also the motor, it essentially offers localized control along any segment of the facade.

This high degree of control can only benefit contemporary architecture, which has become increasingly transparent. It provides thermoregulation while reducing energy consumption and its associated emissions.

Decker Yeadon

Kensuke Hotta – The Programmable-Kinetic-Fabric for Architecture

There have been a number of proposals which resist the passing of time and make architecture old fashioned on both a substantial context and a social context; for example Plug-in architecture or Metabolism. These movements have not been successful in solving contextual or social problems. With this problematic in mind, what can we do by using technological methods for sustainable architecture? With this project a proposal is set forth called ‘programmable space’ that using the new contemporary technology like a built in computer behind a wall. Herein architecture is defined as an intelligent machine that fuses a number of computers, sensors and actuators in order to produce an interactive interface. In this thesis several methods reference: how to control the architectural machine, classify three types of architecture within an experiment that focuses on active light shading in order to provide kinetic architecture [this being more efficient than fixed (hence optimizing) architecture for light shading by using computer] and explaining the tools used especially Arduino (hardware) and the Genetic Algorithm (software) used in the experiment. In other words, this is a case studies of programmable architecture that relates to both hardware and software.

Ocean of Light – Squidsoup

The Ocean of Light project explores the creative and immersive possibilities of light-based visualisation in physical space. It uses bespoke hardware to create dynamic, interactive and three-dimensional sculptures from light.

Surface is the first artwork to be exhibited using the Ocean of Light hardware. It uses minimal visuals and sound to evoke the essence of character and movement. Autonomous entities engage in a playful dance, negotiating the material properties of a fluid surface.

The Ocean of Light project is a collaborative research venture, led by Squidsoup and supported by the Technology Strategy Board (UK). Partners include Excled Ltd and De Montfort University. Additional support and resources have been provided by Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Norway), Massey University, Wellington (New Zealand) and Centre for Electronic Media Art, Monash University (Aus). Squidsoup is a digital arts group specialising in immersive interactive installations within physical 3D space. Their work combines sound, light, physical space and virtual worlds to produce immersive and emotive headspaces. They explore the modes and effects of interactivity, looking to make digital experiences where meaningful and creative interaction can occur.

ocean of light

via: interactive architecture

Ryuji Nakamura – Spring

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

Japanese architect Ryuji Nakamura has constructed a nearly invisible 3D screen that only reveals itself in the presence of light.  This installation ‘spring’ was part of the “Neoreal in the Forest” exhibit at this year’s Milan Design Week (April 17 – April 22, 2012).

all images © Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

spring by Ryuji Nakamura

Ryuji Nakamura


Cloudscapes by Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo

Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo, Cloudscapes, 2010. Photo: Giorgio Zucchiatti

Architect Tetsuo Kondo has teamed up with German climate engineering firmTranssolar to fill a closed space inside the Corderie with clouds. Clouds, after all, are part of our architecture: they frame outdoor space and filter natural light.

Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo, Cloudscapes, 2010. Photo: Giorgio Zucchiatti

Transsolar + Tetsuo Kondo, Cloudscapes, 2010. Photo: Giorgio Zucchiatti

Visitors can experience the cloud from below, within, and above as they climb up 4.3 meter high helical ramp erected in the center of the room. The cloud is based on the physical phenomenon of saturated air, condensation droplets floating in the space and condensation seeds. The atmospheres above and below the cloud have different qualities of light, temperature, and humidity, separating the spaces by a filter effect. The cloud can be touched, and it can be felt as different microclimatic conditions coincide.


The cloud is created through climate engineering. Three layers of air are pumped into the room: cool dry air at the bottom that keeps the cloud floating, hot humid air in the middle to fashion a dense fog and hot dry air at the top.


via: we make money not art