The Architectural Association Visiting School in Athens, as part of the AI research agenda, has continued its investigations to challenge the static built environment with its 2014 installation entitled Kinetic Haze. The project investigates the possibilities of architectural modeling via scripting, digital fabrication, and large scale installations.
This year's investigation follows the theme of the previous year’s work entitled Cipher City: Recharged, in which the creation of complex form-making systems resulted in the discovery of interactive design patterns. Following their discoveries in 2013, students in this year’s program further investigated kinetic and interactive architecture in their new study entitled Revolutions. After a series of design ideas were developed by smaller groups of students, the teams collaborated to create the final prototype Kinetic Haze in less than five days. Read on after the break to learn more about the project.
This interactive installation seeks to redefine the concept of the architectural pathway. Standing at 2.5 meters tall, 1.2 meters wide, and 4.5 meters long, the structure is made of wooden frames and elastic strings wired with motion sensors and actuators. The pattern of the woven elastic cords is designed to affect the visual perception of the viewer and respond to their movements.
The life-size prototype “bears the behavior signature of that of a primal organism.” When an initial user appears, the structure is put into a hostile state in which “its flexible muscle-type strings vibrating nervously, blocking the entrance.” When a second user appears the prototype shifts into a “friendly mode” allowing the two users to walk into the structure and interact. Time and light are also utilized to augment the perception of space in the structure. Vivid flickering lights encourage the users to move out of the structure after a period of time and the overall experience promotes communication between the users experiencing and those viewing the prototype.
Kinetic Haze was the result of a combination of ideas from five different groups at the AA Athens Visiting School. To learn more about the individual work by the students to develop the prototype, read their descriptions and see the gallery below.
4fan: (Katerina Bali, Ismini Epitropou, Efthymia Kasimati, Maria Velaora): Aspired to expand the human perception of space, 4fan team develops frameClouds; an interactive system that allows the user to engage in a play with the built pathway. The frameClouds design follows a tessellation pattern based on the division of triangles. The division pattern is analysed and three strategic intervention points are chosen. These points are used to place air-fans in order to form different fields of interaction with the user. The material system consists of plastic bags which are following the triangulated pattern. Due to their flexible, transparent and unconstrained characteristics, plastic bags are chosen to fulfil the selected grid. They allow light to go through, giving eventually a gradient visual bumping effect. The air-fans are activated by sensing the user’s presence. The bags inflate and deflate and the space is converted from a straight corridor to an experience of refined limits and augmenting duration as the user is drawn to occupy an ever-changing space.
HMN (Hazem Halasa, Dimitra Askouni, Nessma Al Ghoussein): HMN team creates a model that is characterised as Communication through Separation. The concept entails a transformative separation between two people through the structure. A barrier entangling the passageway endeavours to create a kinetic distinction that allows the users through to the other side without the element of visual communication with one another. It plays on the notion of needing another individual without every knowing who they might be or how they might complement them in means other than passing through the structure. It is necessary to keep the users separated in order to heighten this experience of interacting with the unidentified and emphasising the under-rated notion of dependency. The interpretation of the passage manifests itself in a barrier that is slit into horizontal components that deform as the barrier compresses/expands. These deformations would sometime allow the exposure of parts of the users, hinting/teasing them into trying to guess their partner, but never fully revealing one another. The linear division complements the triangular reading of the structure, and also leads the users into using the passage to guide them in a linear direction forward.
Purple_Haze (Daphne Dimopoulou, Michail Tavladorakis, Christina Bali): Inspired by materiality, Purple_Haze team proposes a system of elastic strings attached onto the pathway’s structure. The placement of the strings is arranged perpendicular to a person’s walk through the pathway, bridging the two opposing sides of the model. As the person enters the path, the prototype shifts from its initial phase to the second phase in order to welcome the user within. Sensing devices transform the dormant architectural piece into an active system; mechanical motors lift up the strings, whose flexible materiality allows them to stretch, thus opening up the path visually. Purple_Haze successfully combines the sophistication behind an Arduino controller with the natural characteristics of stretchy springs to form an interactive architectural model which is driven by the human presence and which is affecting the human perception of space.
The Oscillators (Konstantinos Sfikas, Anastasia Verteouri, Eirini Stolidou, Nikos Kourniatis): Redefining the concept of the architectural pathway, the Oscillators team creates the Nervous Corridor. This interactive passage archetype is divided into a total of five zones; each zone has a different reaction to human presence. According to a person’s distance from the edges of the pathway, the model moves from a relaxed state to a tense state. On its material characteristics, the Oscillators have tested various textile systems; from pleated fabric to allow movement, to elastic transparent membrane and thread-covered triangulated structures. The materiality allows for a more animalistic behaviour when triggered by the motors as it is flexible and has a phase difference on its transformation. Approaching the model’s edges triggers an unpredictable behaviour of the textile system while the central zone is considered as the safe friendly zone. Soft and chaotic oscillation occurs while the user travels from one side of the pathway to the other.
Wave(X) (Maria-Eleni Bali, Zoi-Dafni Arnellou, Catherine Berki): The creative combinatory approach of various material systems together with the intelligent use of the Arduino electronic microcontrollers enables the invention of the human-scale interactive pathway made by Wave(X). The prototype is put in action at the moment a user passes through it by deforming its malleable fabric surface. The physical model consists of wooden fixed beams, wooden moveable vertical elements and a malleable metal net attached on the wooden structure. The interaction takes place by sensing movement within the pathway. Horizontal rails start to move inwards and outwards thus deforming the metal net attached onto them. A perfectly synchronized motion of the rails creates the feeling an enclosure that follows the user walking through the pathway. The smooth movement of the rails followed by the smooth net recreate that of a wave travelling through space and matter accompanying the person moving within.