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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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House Swarming – Infranatural

  • On September 7, 2007

Commissioned for the Art Center presentation of “Open House,” House Swarming is a site-specific installation that operates as both a complex light pattern that greets visitors and as an environment-sensing device. During the day, the “swarm” of green ambiguous forms, both biomorphic and geometric, accentuates the South Campus’s main entry. At twilight, the swarm comes to life, telling visitors and passersby about the current air quality around the building. Electronic sensors perceive air contaminants – such as tobacco, benzene, carbon monoxide, even perfume – and separately inform the outside and inside swarms, which sets off signals. These signals are interpreted as changes to the natural rhythm that the network has established based on the number and distribution of nodes connected to the cable net. Flashing cells on the exterior faÁade indicate air quality inside the building. Conversely, pulsating effects in the interior entry inform visitors about the outside air quality. The flashing lights become indicators of the environment like dramatic clouds at sunset that forewarnings of storms at night.

HouseSwarming is an example of how architects and designers are using technology that mimics biological systems. These patterns look like those structures found in nature, such as the patterns made by schools of fish, flocks of birds, and swarms of locusts. Used in the home, this type of sensor-node technology could enable us to extend our nervous system into the environment and alter our sense of boundaries. Designed by Jenna Didier, Oliver Hess and Marcos Lutyens of  Infranatural


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