Programmable Architecture

-Towards Human Interactive, Cybernetic Architecture-

Kensuke Hotta (B.Eng, M.Eng, Msc)
Architectural Association School of Architecture, 2013

プログラマブル アーキテクチャ


堀田憲祐, 英国建築協会建築学校 

Chapter 8

Model development and Conclusion



8-1. Answer to Research Questions

8-1. リサーチクエッションへの回答 

The original proportion could be re-stated as follows.

     Intelligent responses can be incorporated into architectural systems, integrating both autonomous system and user input, and then it follows that PA (programable architecture) can increase a building’s adaptability.

     The first point in the proposition has already, been tested in the early chapters. Both the hardware and software need to be well-designed to create this dynamic system. Because the proposed system is a cybernetic system, both elements are inextricably connected and cannot be detached. If the hardware does not have changeability, the system cannot represent the necessary myriad of variations. On the other hand, even if the hardware works well, it is difficult to be controlled without adequate software. When the situation changes, its behaviour is affected leading to changes in function.




     The second point in the proposition relates to the autonomous system (pure GA) which was tested in chapter-6 but could not produce the required illumination level, then from this reflection, in chapter-7 a controlling model was proposed and tested. A combination between machine optimization and human intelligence gave relatively effective results, effective results, in this instance equivalent to achieving the objective illumination level.

     Not only does this research affirm the above proposition but it provides an approach for developing and integrating the various aspects of programmable architecture which will be useful to others wanting to develop environmentally responsive buildings.



     Due to time and resource limits, this thesis had a narrow focus. A number of issues need to be addressed before this project can be realized in a commercial setting. 

     The first of these is scalability. This research was carried out using models, the largest being the size of a small room. In that, it is new technology one cannot assume the building components exist for a full-size implementation of the project. Rather, as the full-scale building is built, components will have to be redesigned and tested. This is further described in section 8-2. 

     This highlights the second concern, namely the physical testing of the models. In this research, much of the time-based experimentation was carried out through computer simulation. This needs to be complemented with testing of actually built systems. This is detailed in section 8-3. 

     Finally, this thesis focused on the issue of illumination. For a fully environmentally responsive building, similar work will need to be carried out with other environmental stimuli such as sound, heat, air quality, etc…This is further elaborated in section 8-4.





8-2.Future Work, Scaling up Towards Real Buildings

Two examples of project models are shown below. The first work is a small tea room with a tensegrity roof, exhibited at the Kinetica Art fair 2013. The dimensions of this cubic were approximately 2m by 2m by 2m, so the dimensions of the roof were also 2m by 2m. The second project model was part of an Exhibition at Hagiso Japan 2013, which was slightly bigger. These installations reveal some of the problems of scaling. One can see the model sagging especially toward the middle of the roof. The balance between the flexibility of the roof and the weight of the roof change with the change of scale. The appropriate solution to address for example the stiffness of the central suspension changes with scale. On a larger scale, the structure needs something extra system to solve this issue.

8-2. 今後の課題、実建築物へのスケールアップについて


Fig.8-2,1: 'Interactive Tea Room' InstallationThis picture is a scene from the Kinetica Art fair 2013, in London. The room’s dimensions are 2m by 2m by 2m. The roof is made of the proposed tensegrity structure. The structure reacts to an array of pressure sensors on the floor under the floor panel. As the visitor sits down the above part of the structure will open and give the light from the sky. The user can thus interact with the building and its surrounding environment.
図.8-2,1:「インタラクティブ・ティー・ ルーム」インスタレーションこの写真は、ロンドンで開催されたキネティカ・アート・フェア2013での一コマである。部屋の寸法は、2m×2m×2m。屋根は、本論で提案されているテンセグリティ構造でできている。この構造は、床下パネルに設置された圧力センサーの配列に反応する。来場者が座ると、構造体の上の部分が開き、空からの光が差し込む。このように、ユーザーは建物やその周辺環境とインタラクションすることができることでデモンストレートした。 
Fig.8-2,2: Hagiso InstallationThis picture is from the Japan Junction exhibition at Hagiso Japan 2013. The user can control the array of tensegrity roof panels wirelessly using an iPad. The model scale is approached one to one but in so doing it reveals some problems such as sagging.
図.8-2,2: HAGISOでのインスタレーションこの写真は、2013年東京で行われた、ジャパニーズ・ジャンクションの展示から。テンセグリティで校正されたの屋根コンポーネントを、iPadを使ってワイヤレスで操作することができる。模型の縮尺は1対1に近いが、その分たるみなどの問題点が見えてきた。

8-3. Future Work, Towards Physical Experiment 

8-3. 今後の課題、物理的な実験に向けて 

Fig.8-3,1: Physical ExperimentThis picture is a screen capture from the video of a physical experiment on illumination levels of the proposed structure. This contrasts with the simulations used in chapter 6 and 7. The upper picture shows the overall experimental setup. The kinetic roof structure is anchored to the wall. An LED torch light is used as a light source placed in front of the roof. The light and roof combine to cast a shadow of the roof membrane onto the wall. The shadow move as the kinetic roof changes shape. There is a measuring device, a light sensor, which displays the level of illumination in real time. The two pictures at the bottom illustrate two instances of the roof’s shape: in one the membrane does not cover the measuring device while in the other it is covering it. The former shows 45 lumens and the latter shows 28 lumens. The bigger number indicates a brighter condition.
図.8-3,1:物理的な実験 この写真は、提案された構造物の照度に関する物理実験のビデオからの画面キャプチャである。6章、7章で使用したシミュレーションと対照的にセンサーもアクチュエータも、計測機器も物理的である。写真には実験セットアップの全体がみえる、すなわちキネティックルーフ構造体は壁に固定され、光源としてLEDトーチライトが屋根の前に置かれている。光と膜の組み合わせにより、屋根の膜の影が壁に投影される。影は、キネティック・ルーフの形が変わるにつれて移動する。光センサーで作られた照度計という計測器があり、照度をリアルタイムで表示する。下の2枚の写真は、屋根の形状の2つの例を示している。一方は膜が測定器を覆っておらず、もう一方は覆っている。前者は45ルーメン、後者は28ルーメンを示している。数字が大きい方が明るいことを表している。

     In chapters 6 and 7, computer-based simulated experiments were used. As you can see in the above figure, the author also attempted to use constructed physical models (chapters 4-8). Two different methods exist to connect the simulation with the physical robotic roof. One method uses the software 'Firefly' to control the system through Rhino/Grasshopper. The other involves a direct coding connection between the processing computer and Arduino through a serial transformation. Both methods were tested and worked. 


Physical experimentation has not been used as the primary research tool for several reasons.

1. The Scaling problem (as mentioned above)

2. Sensing methods - for instance, the light sensor above was required in large numbers and was prohibitively expensive.

3. Material problems - controlling the quality of the material in the physical models was problematic. For example, the opacity of the material of the roof membrane fluctuated a great deal even in a small sample.

4. Space - The experiment needed an appropriate space. For example, in the above set-up, the roof was placed vertically on the wall, meaning gravity affected its movement adversely.

For the future realization of this proposal, the physical experiment needs to be carried out with the goal of generating results similar to the simulated ones.



2. センシング方法 - 例えば、上記の光センサーは大量に必要であり数をそろえるには法外に高価であった。

3. 素材の問題 - 物理的なモデルで素材の品質をコントロールすることは問題があった。例えば、屋根の膜の素材の不透明度は、小さなサンプルでも大きく変動していた。

4. 実験空間 - 実験には適切なスペースが必要であった。例えば、上記のセットアップでは、屋根は壁に垂直に設置されており、重力がその動きに悪影響を及ぼす。


8-4. Future Work, Addressing Various Environmental Stimuli and Other Concerns 

8-4. 今後の課題、様々な環境刺激への対応とその他懸念事項 

All the experiments in this thesis focused on lighting illumination levels. However, in the original thesis aims and objectives (p.18) various types of environmental stimuli, such as sound, heat, air, temperature, etc. are mentioned. A true cybernetic architectural system has to deal with all those elements. There is no doubt GA would able to mediate a great number of environmental sources but the methodology needs to be expanded and tested.

     In this case, a single structure is considered but if this sort of cybernetic architecture is realized, what going to happen between two buildings? Can they boost each other’s adaptability? Will they attempt to compete against each other? Alongside adapting to environmental factors and human input, the system has to have the adaptability to other buildings. This relationship will also need to be tested.



8-5. Future Structures 

8-5. 将来の構造物 

While sections 8-2 through 8-4 highlight the rather formidable work ahead to realise fully programmable architecture there is scope to start creating structures incrementally. Section 8-2 highlights two human-scale implementations of programmable architecture. These could be expanded and tested in other small to mid-size structures slowly building up a portfolio of successful implementations of cybernetic architecture. 

     In chapter 4 when addressing the issue of environmental input the term ‘layers’ is used to refer to illumination, sound, air and other environmental. One could see a series of future structures successively adding more and more ‘layers’ that address more and more environmental factors and become increasingly intelligent. Thus, while this proposal is somewhat theoretical as presented it could be implemented in the near future with the application of adequate resources.