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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Some thoughts on Responsive Kinetic Architecture

  • On July 27, 2006

Interactive Architecture
Institut du Monde Arabe

The idea of a responsive architecture is simply fascinating. The façade of Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe comes immediately to mind, especially the way its lenses respond to changing light levels; likewise, the Medina umbrellas by Bodo Rasch which unfold at sunrise to shade the courtyard for morning prayer.

Interactive Architecture
Medina Umbrellas

"But does our fascination lie in the actual movement of these elements — the lenses, the umbrellas? Could we not detect a deeper curiosity for the very idea of movement in architecture? In fact, elements in a building do not actually need to move in order to speak about motion" say Sarah Bonnemaison and Christine Macy of Dalhousie University. "We can think about the way the potential of movement was depicted in the tendrils of Art Nouveau, or the memory of motion in the grotesque earth-like pillars of Antonio Gaudi, or the mechanisms of movement in the designs of the Futurists and the Constructivists. The very idea of movement in a building is what gives it vitality and liveliness and when elements actually move, we can see this as an extension of the original idea. 

Interactive Architecture
Bonnemaison and Macy’s  work with dancer’s motion transformed into tangible, habitable structures called Gestures


  1. John Sayer

    I am writing a dissertation essay about kinetically adaptive architecture and was hoping to use some of your short report as reference. However, I can’t see who has written it, or where you are sourcing the quotes of Sarah Bonnemaison and Christine Macy from.

    Please advise.

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