Recently I’ve taken notice of the emergence of responsive systems in art and architecture. I’m fascinated by their potential, and hopeful that ways to begin exploring their applicability to our field will become more prevalent. For those unfamiliar with such work, responsive systems are those capable of adapting to complex environmental and social conditions. They… Read more »
Recently I’ve taken notice of the emergence of responsive systems in art and architecture. I’m fascinated by their potential, and hopeful that ways to begin exploring their applicability to our field will become more prevalent. For those unfamiliar with such work, responsive systems are those capable of adapting to complex environmental and social conditions. They give form and expression to forces and stimuli otherwise unseen, and hold potential to manage resource allocation in ways previously not possible.
For the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi (2012), architecture firm AEDAS employed a responsive façade programmed to adapt to the movement of the sun as a way to reduce solar gain and glare. Modules taking clues from the traditional Islamic lattice shading devices called mashrabiya were developed using parametric software to reduce solar gain by an estimated 50 percent. Throughout the course of the day, the building façade becomes animated, with varying proportions of the façade becoming visible depending on the unique lighting condition.
The work of artist Daan Roosegaarde is also of interest regarding responsive systems. His studio “creates interactive designs that explore the dynamic relation between people, technology, and space.” Roosegaarde’s installations blur the line between art and landscape architecture, responding to both human interaction and environmental conditions and creating dynamic and rich experiential environments. In “Dune 4.2,” 60 meters worth of variable height fibers with embedded LEDs were installed along the Maas River in Rotterdam. These fibers brighten and dim according to the interaction with passersby, creating an artificial landscape where “city, nature and people meet.”
These are but two examples of many such exciting efforts, and signal the remarkable scale range of responsive systems. They also represent interesting case studies for how such systems might be applicable to landscape architecture.
With the pronounced focus on resiliency in recent years, perhaps responsive systems hold potential to help build in a layer of contingency against storm surges. As the technology becomes cheaper and more available, shade structures might be designed that employ such systems to ensure maximum coverage throughout the year. Or, could systems respond to rainfall, opening and closing with the aim of capturing rainwater and providing shade?
Many questions remain and much exploration needs to be done in order to make such leaps a reality, but it’s important to constantly explore and innovate to remain at the forefront of the design discourse.
Photo of “Dune 4.2″ courtesy of Daan Roosegaarde.
For more information and examples of responsive systems: