Architecture and its (non)permeable boundaries
The project presented in this paper is part of a larger body of ongoing design research that investigates kinetic and responsive architectural skin systems. It explores integration of custom-made soft robotic muscles into a component-based surface. The result is a prototype of a light modular system capable of kinetic response triggered by inflation and deflation of soft robotic muscles. The project focuses on kinetics of architectural surfaces and tectonics that integrate stasis and motion. It proposes a ‘programmable’ architectural modular system that simultaneously addresses stability, dynamics and adaptability of a singular system. This prototype-based research demonstrates the possibility of transforming aggregated structures by inflating and deflating integrated soft components (pneu) within them. In particular, the project explores the capacity of pneu structures to produce a kinetic effect in architectural surfaces. By having an elastic membrane, a pneu structure responds to the change of pressure by changing its mass. The change in pressure can cause considerable physical transformation of the structure. In addition, the nature of a boundary between architecture and its larger ecology is of particular concern. The project is based on two premises. First, that architecture and the built environment in general should be more tightly bound to the dynamics of local ecologies and that strong links to the undercurrents of its surroundings (near and far) could facilitate an active response to constant changes in the environment (external and internal). Second, that responsive architectural systems could act as ecologies in themselves, allowing architecture as a discipline to recalibrate its role in a larger socio-economic context by becoming a more intelligent and operative participant - a participant imbued with foresight.