Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Johnson, Morris, Alayyoubi

Living Architecture: Responsive Kinetic Systems Lab
GSAPP fall 2006



_Element We intend to explore the spatial and structural potential of the responsive kinetic systems of mutational floor elements

_Movement We intend to research and produce a true responsive kinetic system that does indeed move as well as change physical form and volume by transforming from the floor plane into a 3-dimensional element.

_Space Our responsive kinetic system will not be limited to surface transformation, but will affect the spatial and volumetric characteristics of the immediate environment in response to human activity and occupation. This study will focus on interior rather than exterior conditions.

_Realization To fully explore comprehend the implications of a such a research project, it is essential that the physical construction be realized at full scale. We have thus decided to limit the scope of this investigation to the human scale.

_Materiality We intend to explore not only the unconventional use of conventional materials, as well as unconventional materials themselves. The material, particular that which comes in physical contact with people, is the experiential interface, and will therefore be a large focus for this investigation.


The “use” of physical space most often requires an active experience. Space often simply becomes a repository for furniture and other effects, and frequently is “used” only at by the behavior and activities of the inhabitant. We intend to explore the possibilities of an passive occupation of space, that is to say, a space which responds to presence of its occupants by transforming itself into functional elements. While the information detected and read by sensors embedded in the space will vary depending on the type of space and different human characteristics, we will be limiting our investigation to the exploration of what and how the space will passively transform itself. We will be using a simple infrared sensor as “binary” input device that detect the presence or absence of an inhabitant, allowing us to focus our resources primarily on the materials and implementation of the output function of the system.

By focusing on output potential, we intend to explore an array of different types of actuators, ranging from servo motors to pneumatics. This portion of the research will test the feasibility and functionality of the different actuators in order to find the most efficient method to transform the surface of the floor. We will simultaneously explore the potential of different materials to act as the interface between the occupant and the mechanism. These materials will include silicon sheets, cast silicon, flexible wood veneers, and a variety of textiles.

Imagine an expansive and open space such as a gallery whose floor plane would only be interrupted when the floor itself detected that an occupant needed to sit; at which point a mass would emerge from the floor to accommodate the need to rest.The goal of this research is to develop a component of a spatial system that, upon detecting the presence of an occupant, will transform, or “grow”, itself into a usable furniture element. The objective is to create a comfortable and functional sofa-type element that will rise from the floor when needed, and recede back into the floor when the occupant rises and walks away. We find this intriguing and fascinating as an exercise of “making something from nothing”.



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