Move That Building

by C-Lab

Tired of inertia? Are you unmotivated to produce buildings that stand still? If you’re feeling that stasis is over-rated, consider architecture that moves. Your wish to create stimulating environments does not have to end with the design of sluggish, fixed structures. Go beyond the contracted scope of stability, constancy, and permanence. Actively modify the space and appearance of your buildings. Architects like you have cast aside fears of safety and performance liabilities to propose ideas about kinetic experience that even outlast the movement of the building’s parts. Why make the image of your next commission motionless and inert? Specify architecture that has the power to move. Here are some ways to shake up your next design.


L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Jean Nouvel, 1987.
The south façade of the Institut varies the transparency of the building and the amount of natural light inside, using 30,000 light-sensing diaphragms designed to evoke Arab latticework screens. Although the system no longer works, Nouvel’s design stimulated interest in responsive material technologies and continues to be a stunning feature of the building.

Open-air Theater, Frei Otto, 1968.
A convertible canopy structure creates a flexible space in the courtyard of the Abbey of Hersfeld. The roof membrane unfolds along wires radiating from a single mast, imposing almost nothing on the host architecture while infusing it with new programs.

Dutch House, OMA / Rem Koolhaas, 1993.
A pivoting bridge acts as a single hinge providing a variable relation between the bedrooms, service access below, and terraces above.

Hybrid Muscle, R & Sie / Francois Roche and Stephanie Lavaux, 2003 .
The Hybrid Muscle is a work and exhibition space in Chiang Mai, Thailand that uses an ‘animal engine’ to generate its own electricity and unplug it from the power grid. Mechanical energy is produced by an albino buffalo lifting of a two-ton counter weight and is converted to electrical energy used to power lights, a laptop, and mobile phones.

Trinkbrunnen, the next ENTERprise / Ernst J. Fuchs and Marie-Therese Harnoncourt, 2003.
The Trinkbrunnen is a mobile pneumatic bar designed for the 'Höfefest' in St. Pölten, Austria. Water from a hose passes through the volume, cooling the drinks and deforming the object. Trinkbrunnen’s pneumatic structure addresses the brief for an object that is easy to assemble and dismantle, requires little storage space, and is as independent from infrastructure as possible.

Sapporo Stadium, Hiroshi Hara, 2001.
A floating platform allows the natural grass football field to be moved in and out of the stadium. The field hovers on a cushion of air, rotating as it enters the dome in a maneuver that takes about two hours to complete.

Olympic Tennis Center, Dominique Perrault, completion in 2007.
Roof panels on hydraulic lifts pivot to filter light and transform the boundary between inside and outside. The building is conceived as a garment or ‘magic box’ that unwraps itself, changing with the different events inside.

Party Wall, nARCHITECTS / Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang, 2005.
Party Wall creates a variable barrier that allows ‘neighbors’ on either side of the wall to interact with each other and with the wall itself. Proximity sensors connected to servo motors and pulley cables cause the bands of foam to compress and expand, modulating the apertures and the visual, spatial, and acoustic qualities of the boundary.

Transport Muscle, ONL / Kas Oosterhuis and Ilona Lenard, 2003 .
The muscle transforms the size and shape of the soft pressurized volume by varying the amount of air pumped in through the mesh of ‘muscles’ that wrap around its surface. Visitors interact with the muscle via motion sensors as well as sliders on a computer screen. However, ONL also programmed the muscle to have a will of its own, introducing unpredictability into the interaction. ONL calls the project a ‘prototype for an environment that is slightly out of control.’

MoMA Extension, OMA / Rem Koolhaas, 1997.
‘The Odyssey’, a new transportation system, combines vertical and horizontal movement, carrying its passengers throughout the museum on a platform the size of a room.














Architecture of Power, Part 2