University of Southern California
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Behnaz FARAHI BOUZANJANI: How might we imagine a space that—over time—can build up an understanding of its users through their bodily gestures, visual expressions and rituals of behavior, and respond accordingly? In other words, how might we envision a genuinely interactive space whose form and physical configuration can respond to and learn from its users, and vice versa?
This project addresses these questions. It looks at the interface between remote sensing, interactive media and architecture to explore the possibility of an interactive environment that both conditions and responds to the user’s movements and emotions. The impulse behind the project is a desire to engage with the psychological benefits of an environment that can respond to—and therefore empathize with—human emotions through its capacity to adapt physically to the user. As such, the environment can be seen to overcome shock or conditions of alienation by accommodating the user. Such an architecture could be described as an “alloplastic architecture.”
Tensegrity structures are, of course, nothing new. What is new, however, is the potential for these structures to adapt and change their form. In this project I used Shape Memory Alloy [SMA] springs and other devices that have come to operate as “muscles” that can realign a structure within a constant overall equilibrium that is maintained as other springs or expandable elements adjust their length to compensate for that initial movement, thereby reconfiguring the entire structure. Another device that was explored in this project was the use of the Kinect motion sensing device. Not only can this device begin to recognize bodily movements and judge distance and depth, but it also has the capacity to learn from users and adapt to them with time.
This research therefore addresses the potential of a reciprocal transformation between a user and an architectural element, whereby the environment can influence the user, but equally the user can also influence the environment. It also engages with a series of interdisciplinary challenges, ranging from a technological grasp of how such environments might be able to change morphologically to a psychological and neurological grasp of how human beings might themselves respond to those changes, and become active agents in remodeling and redesigning those environments.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
BFB: Philip Beesley, Michael Fox, Theo Jansen, Neri Oxman, Achim Menges, Alvin Huang, Manuel DeLanda.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
BFB: Sounds of drilling and cutting machines in the workshop! Radiohead, maybe.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
BFB: Neri Oxman, ART+COM, Alex McDowell, Greg Lynn.
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