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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Muscle – HRG and ONL

  • On March 27, 2006

One more project from the Hyperbody Research Group . I’ve been in Amsterdam for the weekend and now on my way to Delft for the Game Set Match II conference held by the Hyperbody Research Group and ONL Architects

One of the things that I’ve said before on interactive architecture dot org is that I really respect the way the Hyperbody Research Group and ONL Architects don’t just speculate on interactive kinetic architecture but actually build prototypes based on their ideas. Here’s Muscle NSA which was realized as a working prototype of the concepts Kas Oosterhuis explored in the Trans_PORTs project (2001).

Video of Trans_PORTs project

The MUSCLE programmable building is a pressurized soft volume wrapped in a mesh of tensile muscles, which change length, height and width by varying the pressure pumped into the muscle. Visitors of the Architectures Non Standard exhibition play a collective game to explore the different states of the MUSCLE. The public interacts with the MUSCLE by entering the interactivated sensorial space surrounding the prototype. This invisible component of the installation is implemented as a sensor field created by a collection of sensors. The sensors create a set of distinct shapes in space that, although invisible to the human eye, can be monitored and can yield information to the building body. The body senses the activities of the people and interacts with the players in a multimodal way. The public discovers within minutes how the MUSCLE behaves on their actions, and soon after they start finding a goal in the play.

The outcome of this interaction however is unpredictable, since the MUSCLE is programmed to have a will of its own. It is pro-active rather then responsive and obedient. The programmable body is played by its users. A constant play of conjointly effectuating (re)actions, of attraction and repulsion between all players involved. This game truly is a multi-player game. Now true communication is established, where the pro-active parties involved alternately sense, process, and actuate in this constant loop of mutual influence. The players experience this parametric game of architecture as a form of serious fun. The design is the formula, the playing of the game means setting the parameters.

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