Programmable Architecture

-Towards Human Interactive, Cybernetic Architecture-

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




2-6. From Art

2-6-1. Strandbeest by Theo Jansen

2-6. 芸術から

2-6-1. テオヤンセンによるストランドビースト

Fig2-6-1,1 Strandbeest by Theo Jansen (Refer from his website (
Theo Jansen has been occupied with making a new nature since the late 1970s. Plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. He makes skeletons which can walk on the wind. Eventually, he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives. This artwork includes mechanisms such as the Klann Linkage, Jansen's Linkage etc.
図2-6-1,1 テオ・ヤンセンによるストランドビースト(彼のウェブサイト参照(

‘Strandbeest’ is known as a kinetic sculpture which moves by wind power. Stranbeest was made by Dutch physicist and artist Theo Jansen in 1990. Jansen has been studying the creation of new life in Art. The name ‘Strandbeest’ means ‘beach creature’ in Dutch. The intricate structure is assembled by pipes, wood, and wing-like sails. He says on his website that the first creatures were just a rudimentary breed, but they gradually evolved into a generation of machines that can react to the surrounding environment.


Usually, Strandbeest is shown on the beach in the sand. Its foot is designed to walk on the sand rather than using something such as a wheel. Eventually, he expects to put herds of these machines out on the beaches too, in his words, ‘live their own lives.


As a back story of this work, Jansen was born in the Netherlands in 1948. In the early part of his career, he studied physics at the Delft University of Technology. Theo Jansen presented several projects before Strandbeest from 1979 onwards. His subjects were to be composed of one ingredient and to create new life. While he was at the Delft University of Technology, he put forward some projects as a complex of physics and art. In 1979 Theo Jansen launched ‘The UFO’, which was made of polyvinyl chloride. It was 4 metres wide and could fly. From then, he started using polyvinyl chloride for his objects, which he continued to use for all of his work into the present. In 1986 Theo Jansen presented ‘Bird’. This art shows a human hung from a ceiling who flies around a circular room with plastic wings.

この作品の裏話として、ヤンセンは1948年オランダ生まれた。彼の経歴の初期にはデルフト工科大学で物理学を学んだ。彼は1979年のストランドビーストよりも前にいくつかのプロジェクトを発表している。彼のテーマは、一つの簡単な構成要素から複雑な新しい生命を生み出すことだった。デルフト工科大学在学中には、物理学と芸術の複合体としてのプロジェクトをいくつか提唱した。1979年、テオ・ヤンセンは「The UFO」と呼ばれる作品を発表した、それはポリ塩化ビニ-ルでできていた。それは幅4メートルで、空を飛ぶことができた。 それ以来、彼の作品にはポリ塩化ビニ-ルを使用するようになり、現在に至るまで全ての作品に使用されている。1986年、テオ・ヤンセンは「Bird」を発表した、それは天井から吊るされた人間が、プラスチックの羽で円形の部屋の中を飛び回るというアートである。

There is a unique philosophy in Strandbeest. As humans are made up of proteins, Theo Jansen decided that his new living creatures should also be composed of one ingredient. He adopted polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Although he initially used PVC because of price, it turned out that PVC could change form. Thus the PVC tubes could become the "Cells" of Strandbeest as he planned. Theo calls the plastic tubes "Cells". He heats up the plastic tubes to create the various kinds of shapes needed for muscles, legs and lungs, for example. Another key point of this work is its analogue environmental detection. Jansen demonstrates this machine on the beach. Strandbeest is designed to detect surroundings; for example, a sensor makes it aware it has entered the sea. If this machine detects water, it will move backwards to return to the beach environment. One model will even anchor itself to the earth if it senses a storm approaching.

ストランドビーストには独自の哲学がある。人間がタンパク質で構成されているように、テオ・ヤンセンもまた、新しい生命体も一つの成分で構成されるべきだと考えた。彼が採用したのはポリ塩化ビニ-ル(PVC)である。当初は価格の関係で塩ビを使っていたが、ポリ塩化ビニ-ルには形を変える能力があることがわかった。そのため、彼の計画どおりPVCチューブはストランドビーストの「細胞」になることができた。テオは、プラスチック製のチューブを「セル」と呼んでいる。プラスチックチューブを熱して、筋肉や足、肺など、必要なさまざまな種類の形を作り出していく。 この作品のもう一つのキーポイントは、アナログな環境検知である。ヤンセンはこの機構をビーチで実演している。ストランドビーストは周囲の環境を検知するように設計されており、例えば海に入ったことをアナログなセンサーで認識する。この機械が水を検知すると、後方に移動して浜辺の環境に戻る。あるモデルでは、嵐が近づいていることを感知した場合に、自分自身を地面に固定することもできる。

2-6-2. Petit Mal by Simon Penny

2-6-2. サイモン・ペニーによるプチ・マル

Fig.2-6-2,1 Petit Mal by Simon penny( refer from
The physical structure of Petit Mal is centred around a set of pendulums and is built of a welded aluminium frame and a pair of wheels because the material is lightweight and economical. It is driven by just two motors set on its body, and it is self-stabilising. The control facilities, such as the processor, sensors and logic power supply, are stored in the upper pendulum. The lower pendulum contains the motors and motor power supply. The internal pendulum plays the role of keeping the sensors perpendicular while the aluminium body is moving. Batteries set in both frames keep the balance by using their weight and work as power sources.
Three ultrasonic sensors are attached, and each of them is paired with a piezoelectric sensor in the front of Petit Mal while another ultrasonic sensor is set on the backside. Two motors with optical encoders for motor feedback and an accelerometer are installed. The main coordinator of the system is a single Motorola 68hc11 microprocessor. Another processor is planned to allow Petit Mal to be able to learn. Petit Mal can function for a few hours until the batteries need to be replaced.
図.2-6-2,1 サイモン ペニーによるプチ マル
( 参照

With ‘Petit Mal’, Simon Penny aimed to produce a truly autonomous robot. It was first designed in 1989 and started production in 1993. Simon Penny is an Australian artist working in the field of interactive media art as well as an architect working in Digital Cultural Practices and Interactive Art. The autonomy of Petit Mal creates a new domain of autonomous interactive aesthetics. The production required miniaturisation and efficiency in its conception as its budget was limited. The project was assisted by Mark Needelman, Kurt Jurgen Schafer, Gabe Brisson and Jamieson Schulte.


’‘Petit Mal’ was an attempt to investigate the aesthetics of a machine and its interactive behaviour in an actual setting. This work was unique in several ways. The first key aspect was its use of space. In that era, most digital artworks were screen-based using a ‘Graphical User Interface’. However, ‘Petit Mal’ recognized space, chasing and responding to people. It behaved physically, something peculiar in an electronic object. In his words, “I am particularly interested in interaction which takes place in the space of the body, in which kinesthetic intelligence, rather than ‘literary-imagistic’ bits of intelligence, play a major part.”(From his website,


The second key aspect was its degree of intelligence. Compared to industrial robots recognized as a tool, Petit Mal does not work on tasks optimised and designed beforehand. It reacts based on its investigations of its environment. He cited Brooksian subsumption architecture, which it resembles. Petit Mal’s basic software was composed of technologies that determined its shape and dynamics. He insisted that the evaluation of interactivity was subjective, as in the Turing Test.


The last key aspect involved an understanding of integrated Cybernetics. Penny insisted that “Petit Mal is in some sense an anti-robot.” Most robots are elaborations of Von Neumann’s notion of the universal machine, in which the physical machine is simply a formless form to be filled with software "content". Penny described “Petit Mal as an attempt to build a robot which opposed that concept. Hardware and software were considered as a seamless continuity, its behaviour arising from the dynamics of its ‘body’.” This is closer to the modern understanding of cybernetics.

最後の鍵となるのは、インテグレイテッド・サイバネティクスの理解である。 ペニーは「プチマルはある意味で反ロボットである」と主張した。多くのロボットは、フォン・ノイマンが提唱した万能マシンの概念を発展させたものであり、物理的な機械は、ソフトウェアの「コンテンツ」で満たされるための形にすぎないというものである。ペニーは、「プチマル」をその概念に対抗するロボットを作ろうとしたものだと説明した。ハードウェアとソフトウェアはシームレスな連続体として考えられ、その動作はその「体」の力学から生じる。 これは現代のサイバネティクスの理解に近いともいえる。