Some architects are looking at making the structures of the buildings themselves responsive and dynamic. First, this will allow for lighter structures that use fewer building materials and can be more responsive to the environment. This system would produce odd looking buildings, but also buildings that could dynamically respond to their environment to better respond to external forces such as wind and earthquakes.
Even cooler, these buildings could change shape according to the needs of the people. Imagine a building that can shrink at night, when no one's around, and then expand dramatically at the coldest part of night to draw in all the fresh cool air. Or how about a building that continually expands and contracts to improve ventilation, as if the building itself were breathing. Or, to use an example from Tristan d'Estree Sterk from the Office of Robotic Architectural Media, a house that can shake the snow of its own roof.
Sterk is creating light-weight but robust "building envelopes" using actuated tensegrity strctures. Basically, just a series of rods, cables and pneumatic muscles that would give the building it's shape-shifting capabilities.
Buildings that twist in the wind can, themselves, become massive wind power plants. Small inexpensive generators can be built in creating devices that we've previously heard called "undulating kinetic baffles." Whatever you call them, they produce power from the movement of buildings in the wind, a force that was previously dreaded by building designers. Or, the buildings could conceivably change orientation, allowing wind to blow through them, increasing ventillation and also possibly powering internal wind turbines.
This is the first we've heard about actuated tensegrity, but it won't be the last.
via: Wired News
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