Translated Geometries

06/2014

by: Efstathia Eleni Baseta, Meral Ece Tankal, Ramin Shambayati


We propose an architecture of transition. A series of transitions between forces, (material) phases, people, spaces, and functions. Form does not always follow the functions that we cannot predict but rather the phases that our new built environments can go through in their relationship with humans, nature, and existing buildings.

What our architecture may lack in a set style and goals is compensated in its ability to harness flows of energy and information in its various transitions. By treating our architecture as a homogenous system we give it the potential for infinite personalization based on control over specific spatial parameters. These parameters will define processes and reasons for change in architecture rather than finite and ultimately outdated states.

Having said this, we cannot expect changes in our spaces and structures if the fundamental basis of architectural construction, the material, is still viewed as a sedentary element in our systems. A thorough understanding of smart materials and properties suitable for an adaptable architecture is therefore essential in gaining an understanding of their countless possibilities and limitations. In our studio project we have been working with Shape Memory Polymer (SMP) in order to apply it to a responsive architectural prototype. As our concept was based around the motif of architecture in transition, are using a material that can change phase from an external and controlled stimuli. 

Our SMP (Veritex) is able to reach a ‘soft’ and rubbery state upon exposure to heat above its glass transition temperature of 62 oC, at which point it can undergo vast geometrical deformations. Therefore, by wiring and embedding our SMP with constantan heat wires we are able to pick and choose specific applications of heat to our prototype. After a deformation is made, the material cools and stiffens (within 2 minutes) to hold the new shape. The use of SMP is minimized to perform as a structural joint in the material system of the geometry, that of a tessellated triangulated origami pattern. We place the laser-cut hexagonal SMP joint at the intersection of the pattern’s mountains and valleys to be able to control the overall geometrical deformations from these individual nodes. From the initial flat position of the homogenous structure it can be entirely heated and softened and then deformed into a desired position through the actuation force of pulling by many octocopter drones. The drones hold the desired shape until the SMP cools, at which point the new form is held. This process can be repeated indefinitely, as the structure is able to respond to a given environment or user's preferences for various spatial configurations, a never-ending transformable multi-purpose space. These transitions, whether they are ongoing, or frozen in a specific time or setting, define the evolving personality of our new built environment.