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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Mechanical Systems

Mechanical Systems

For this week, we set out to establish a connection between the data collected from a bio-sensor (we are using a heart pulse sensor for this) and a kinetic mechanical system. The data collected will be fed as inputs for the behaviour of the kinetic system, which will then influence the movement of the user.

Reuben Margolin

This week, we will explore how to translate the human body’s movements into a spatial form that moves correspondingly. Reuben Margolin is a kinetic sculptor that creates moving sculptures that mimics movements in nature, like ripples and waveforms. His sculptures use mathematical mechanics of waveforms and mostly consist of rope and pulley systems.

In his work Connected (2009), he worked with choreographer Gideon Obarzanek to create a kinetic wave sculpture to represent the expressiveness of the human movements. The suspended matrix is connected via string and pulleys to the dancer’s body and waveforms are created as the dancer moves.

Reuben Margolin’s Connected



Transformable designs

We are also looking into mechanical methods to scale up smaller movements into bigger ones. We created two prototypes based on the transformable iris design by Ani Liu. The first prototype is a physical adjustable design to create a gear system that will have adjustable gear ratios for each rope. The second prototype is to create an adjustable radius of the circle around the body (to create a range of allowable movement).

Ani Liu’s Transformable Design


Animation of our prototype

[vimeo 256337923 w=640 h=427]


We initially set out to use a physical mechanism as to not lose the tangible connection between the tugging and pulling of the ropes, and their effect. Through making these prototypes, we learned that it is not easy to create a purely physical mechanism (gears and pulleys) to scale up small body movements to the scale of the room. From here, we might start to think about using motors and sensors to create the translation, but still retaining the tangible interface with the body.

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