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responsive architecture

The economist is reporting on the design of dynamic physical space that adapts to its environment.

WHAT if architects could build living systems rather than static buildings—dynamic structures that modify their internal and external forms in response to changes in their environment? …Houses, for example, might shrink in the winter to reduce surface area and volume, thus cutting heating costs. They could cover themselves to escape the heat of the summer sun or shake snow off the roof in winter. Skyscrapers could alter their aerodynamic profiles, swaying slightly to distribute increased loads during hurricanes. Office buildings could reconfigure themselves to improve ventilation.

Dynamic structures could optimize energy use, stability and functionality. They would require advanced sensors to perceive environmental changes, responsive physical systems, and a program for achieving continual structural homeostasis.

Using the biological example of “tensegrity systems” in spider webs and cell membranes, we learn that the integrity of the dynamic structure is the combination of multiple interconnected and independent elements.

Ambient intelligence allows the systems in our physical environments to adapt to our preferences and needs. I wonder how a potentially dynamic structure could respond to the unique semantic interconnectedness of the people that happen to be within it? How could this complement the interconnectedness that is increasingly legible through proximity and presence indicators on mobile devices?

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