Mind & Matter


Not Just for Kids Anymore

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Pola Ginza adaptive shading system. Photo by Hoberman Associates.


Those of us who possessed one of Chuck Hoberman’s famous expanding sphere toys as a kid can still recall this marvel of engineering—a compact plastic ball that could enlarge to encompass a space many times its original volume with a simple flick of the wrist. Throughout his career, Hoberman constructed a series of engineering marvels like this sphere, fascinating children as well as adults with the wonders of kinetic sculpture.

Fortunately for architects, Hoberman has since moved beyond toys to the realm of buildings. His recent endeavors include the expanding arch for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as well as a seven-story tall expanding video screen for U2. Just this week, Hoberman unveiled a dynamic shading system for the facade of Pola, a Japanese cosmetics company with a new store in Tokyo’s Ginza district. The adaptive envelope consists of nearly 200 individually programmable panels made of fritted acrylic. The moving curved shutters create a rippling effect across the facade, and reveal an animated light show with integrated LED illumination at night.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.