Adaptive Pneumatics

Mehran Gharleghi and Amin Sadeghy, graduate students in the Emergent Technologies and Design program at London’s Architectural Association (AA), are investigating a modular façade system that is both adaptable—i.e., capable of responding to climate and other conditions—as well as structural.

Each system component—the initial focus of Gharleghi and Sadeghy’s research—opens and closes on its own via a pneumatic “muscle” that is triggered by internal pressure; the pressure increases or decreases depending on the amount of direct sunlight the component receives. (A prototype component is shown at left.) Thus the system potentially can help regulate an interior environment through active natural ventilation.

The next phase of the research, says Gharleghi, involves physical experiments with large systems of components—which, in theory, piece together to create a façade of any desired size—“to scrutinize performance … under real circumstances.” Gharleghi and Sadeghy’s research has garnered two awards from the AA’s Fabrication Cluster.

Parametric Acoustic Surfaces

An architect who has logged time at Foster + Partners and Buro Happold, Brady Peters is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture’s Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), where he also works. His research, begun last year, focuses on acoustic surfaces.

The purpose, says Peters, “is to create tools and solutions that enable acoustics to become an architectural design problem.” By combining computer-based acoustic simulation with new parametric modeling techniques, Peters is developing complex surfaces—suitable for walls, ceilings, and floors—that, “through their shape and material, can be part of an acoustically well-balanced space.” Early results include surfaces that act as absorbers, as diffusers, and as reflector/absorbers. (The photo at left shows several of these surfaces at a 1:25 scale.)

Peters’ research is being done in partnership with associates at CITA, construction consultancy Grontmij|CarlBro, and architecture firm JJW Arkitekter, and he was awarded a research grant from the RealDania foundation.