Scholarly article on topic 'Transformation and Movement in Architecture: The Marriage Among Art, Engineering and Technology'

Transformation and Movement in Architecture: The Marriage Among Art, Engineering and Technology Academic research paper on "Civil engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Civil engineering, author of scientific article — Maziar Asefi

Abstract Transformable devices, objects and architecture have been used by human beings for a variety of purposes since ancient times. A review of the development of transformable systems reveals that the desperate need to respond to the challenges which could not be fulfilled by using conventional static structures was the decisive motivation for the creation of changeable structures.One of the crucial needs for architecture in the changing world is to respond to the changing requirements of its us ers and to allow them to experience their architectural ambition in reality through involvement in the architectural design process. Transformabili ty can be considered as an important way to respond to the building user's ambitions. This paper by evaluating the major transformable architectural objects and systems will explore how the interconnection between art, engineering and technology in architectur e can respond to ever-changing functional requirements and at the same time represent social, historical backgrounds. Moreover, in this paper the main characteristics of transformable architecture are considered in two main categories of human perception a nd experiences and the creation of intelligent spaces.

Academic research paper on topic "Transformation and Movement in Architecture: The Marriage Among Art, Engineering and Technology"

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SciVerse ScienceDirect

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 51 (2012) 1005 - 1010

ARTSEDU 2012

Transformation and movement in architecture: the marriage among

art, engineering and technology

Dr. Maziar Asefi

School of Architecture, Tabriz Islamic Art University, Tabriz, Iran

Abstract

Transformable devices, objects and architecture have been used by human beings for a variety of purposes since ancient times. A review of the development of transformable systems reveals that the desperate need to respond to the challenges which could not be fulfilled by using conventional static structures was the decisive motivation for the creation of changeable structures. One of the crucial needs for architecture in the changing world is to respond to the changing requirements of its users and to allow them to experience their architectural ambition in reality through involvement in the architectural design process. Transformability can be considered as an important way to respond to the building user's ambitions. This paper by evaluating the major transformable architectural objects and systems will explore how the interconnection between art, engineering and technology in architecture can respond to ever-changing functional requirements and at the same time represent social, historical backgrounds. Moreover, in this paper the main characteristics of transformable architecture are considered in two main categories of human perception and experiences and the creation of intelligent spaces.

Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Ayse £akir Ilhan. Keywords: Art, Technology, Transformation, Movement, Architecture

1. Introduction

Transformable architecture is a suitable strategy for buildings and architectural structures that need to be reconfigured, either by being folded to a compact form for ease of erection and transportation or by changing their geometry and shape, in order to be able to respond to altering functional and aesthetic requirements. One of the crucial needs for architecture in the changing world is to respond to the changing requirements of its users and to allow them to experience their architectural ambition in reality through involvement in the architectural design process. Transformability can be considered as an important way to respond t o the building user's ambitions. There is also a general trend toward the design of buildings that interact with the environment so that they can save energy and reduce running cost. Transformable architecture can create an innovative, dynamic space in which users have more opportunities to effectively make use of changes in their surrounding environment. It also opens a way to meet environmental needs and even to generate unexpected situations. For example, designers can convey historical, social and political messages through transformation. Therefore, it is true to say that transformability is not only important from an architectural point view but it is a crucial step toward improving human creativity and understanding. In this paper the main characteristics of transformable architecture are considered in two main categories of human perception and experiences and the creation of intelligent spaces.

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Ay§e Qakir ilhan doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.08.278

2. Human perception and experience of transformable architecture

It can be argued that one of the crucial responsibilities of architecture in an ever-changing world is to create an environment that provides users with opportunities to extend their creative, social, environmental and aesthetic knowledge. This can be done by experiencing different aspects of the buildings that inhabit their surrounding environments. It is quite clear that architects can play an important role in this issue by designing spaces in which a mutual interaction between the environment and the user is possible. Such architecture goes beyond its basic task of providing a shelter for its users and reconfirms the well-known statement that 'architecture is not a goal itself'. However, the question is how architecture can be involved in the process of reflecting social and historical activities and be used as a learning environment for its users that infuses the message of the architect and the concepts that are behind the design of the architecture? Many architects have already tried to answer this question by designing static buildings that are architecturally vibrant and have transformable environments that allow the users to experience different scenes during the period of their stay in the building. Among these architects are Daniel Libeskind, Renz o Piano and Richard Rogers with their designs for the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris. What is realized in the work of these architects is that the configuration of static architectural and structural components allows the visitors to realize, experience and interact with the environment as they walk through the buildings. In these cases, architecture is a stationary body that can infuse the sense of the passing of time and a virtual transformation only when the visitors move inside the building. Therefore architecture can convey new meanings and remind users of what has occurred in the past and generate new perspectives that illustrate the future. According to Norberg-Schultz (Norberg-Schulz, 2000), architecture can define a place and give meaning to it. Architecture can even change the human understanding of space. Furthermore, a building can convey a new message to its users and can establish a new identity which may affect positively or negatively the user's life. Conventional static buildings usually convey a pre-defined meaning and identity to their users and designers are usually the only people who are involved in the design process. Therefore, what users feel and achieve by living in these buildings is what designers have predetermined. This approach to architecture is missing one of the aspects of Le Corbusier definition of architecture which stated that it is "a machine for living in" (Le Corbusier, 1986). From the view point of the author, this definition of Le Corbusier's seems to be more applicable to life today in which always everything is constantly changing. Architecture today should not only provide a shelter for its users, but it also should provides an interactive environment in which users can by themselves be able to control and redesign their surrounding environment on the basis of their requirement and ambitions and at the same time have the architecture influence their imagination and creativity. The idea of transformation can redefine the identity of today's architecture in such a way that it can more efficiently adapt to a new user's requirements. The examination of transformable buildings and the concepts explained earlier reveals that a new identity can be achieved through transformation. Le Corbusier's quote above makes more sense in transformable architecture. The values of the machine including functionality, regularity, efficiency and moveability that are considered to be in opposition to those of art, can be integrated with the values of art in transformable buildings. Consequently, transformable architecture is not only considered as a machine, it is valued for its aesthetic and artistic characteristics that are achieved through transformation.

As mentioned earlier, many architects have already tried to introduce a new identity for architecture in which a building is considered as a virtually live body, such buildings can change the human understanding of the environment by providing an atmosphere in which the user can experience different scenes. In such a building, architectural components are usually static and the user feels different meanings and senses when walking around the building. In this type of architecture the idea of movement can be realised but due to the non-transformability of the architectural elements, it is named a "frozen transformation". However, in dynamic transformable architecture, especially in the work of Calatrava and Hoberman, moveable components can not only adapt the building to environmental changes, they are able to infuse users with new meaning and identity even if they are not in motion. This unique characteristic of these designs makes his transformable structures different to those of many other architects. The rest of this paper by evaluating the main architectural examples and contemplating the most

important aspects of the idea of transformability into architecture will examine how the integration among art, architecture and technology can propose a new architectural language.

2.1. Kuwait Pavilion in Seville

The foldable roof of the Kuwait Pavilion for the 1992 World's fair in Seville designed by Calatrava, reveals the potential of transformable structures in reflecting the historical, cultural and regional identity of nations (Tischhauser and Moos, 1998). Seventeen transformable scimitar-shaped ribs covered a raised 525 square metre surface in such a way that they resembled the branches of a palm tree (Figure ). Each foldable element was 25 meters in height and was controlled by a separate electric drive to be transformed in fifteen stable positions. The pavilion with a fully closed roof, represents the protection of the Kuwaiti people. When the roof is in a fully open state, it symbolizes a ship's sail which shows Kuwaiti's lives as traders and explorers of the sea before the discovery of oil. The roof in halfway-open position resembles a Bedouin tent which was used as a house to protect the Kuwaiti people from the desert storms. The arms of the roof interlace with the others in the fully closed state to form a cover for the pavilion building, providing shade during the summer.

Figure 1. Retractable roof of the Kuwait Pavilion for EXPO 92 in Seville, pictures from

(http://www.turbosquid.com)

The transformable arms of this pavilion not only performed as functional architectural components that could provide shade during Seville's hot summer days, they could also be transformed separately so that different stabilized spatial configurations could be realized to represent the special culture identity of the Kuwaiti people.

2.2. Ernsting Warehouse

Calatrava's idea of movement has also been realized in the cladding of a small-scale building. What is important here is that he applies the idea of movement and transformation for the type of buildings such as warehouses where the clients usually do not intend to spend much money on the design and construction (Asefi, 2010). The design of warehouses and parking lots are usually treated as a purely practical necessity in the area of architecture and are usually designed in such a way as merely fulfil the functional requirements of the client. However, Calatrava showed that the implementation of innovative ideas can turn neglected areas of architecture into something most impressive. In the 1980s, many important buildings were designed using a functionalist point of view which had emerged from the modernist movement of the 20th century Calatrava put a new face to architecture and tried to redefine a new identity for even neglected building types.

In 1983, Calatrava designed a new cladding for the existing Ernsting warehouse designed originally by Gerzi. He devised a new moveable cladding including a row of three transformable doors measuring 13m by 5m (Tzonis, 1999). Each door comprised of two moveable sections each of which consisted of a number of vertical aluminium slats hinged to the corresponding slats in the following row. The doors in the fully open configuration formed concave arches and looked like canopies that not only performed as shelters but also expressed the idea of dynamism, lightness and grace

in architecture. The building is an example of a transformable structure that underlines the pictorial yet functional sense of movement (fig.2).

Figure 2. Transformation process of Ernsting Warehouse's door and a perspective view of the warehouse,

picture from (Tzonis, 1999)

2.3. Venezuelan Pavilion-Expo 2000

The kinetic roof of the Venezuelan Pavilion at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany is an impressive example of transformable frame architecture, which fulfils both functional and artistic expectations. The roof includes 16 petal-shaped moveable sections in a spirally shaped arrangement and is covered by a cupola (Fig.3). Each petal consists of a curved triangulated steel truss covered by a fabric membrane, pre-tensioned by means of tensile cables in order to achieve structural stability against external forces. The retractable wings radiate outward from the centre in overlapping layers. This monumental roof, which designed to symbolise the landscape of Venezuela, covers a cylindrical-shaped building. It opens and closes like a flower and incorporates the colours of the Venezuelan national flower (Rasch, 2000). In the design, the unity between the structural and enclosure components offers a close interaction with and response to changing weather conditions, but also highlights the symbolic potential of transformable frame architecture.

Figure 3. The deployment process of the roof over the Venezuelan Pavilion, pictures from

(http://www.sl-rasch.de/)

2.4. Qizhong Tennis Stadium-China

The Qizhong Tennis Stadium's roof is a recent example of a transformable spatial plate structure utilizing a pivotal mechanism. The stadium was completed in August 2005 using a new technological design strategy that makes it different from most of the transformable plate structures currently in use around the world (Asefi, 2010). The

retractable roof system that covers the central space of the stadium includes eight petal-shaped sections and each rotates around a fixed shaft by means of three concentric driving tracks. Each wing of the roof consists of a steel pipe roof truss covered by a steel plate (fig. 4). The retractable roof is supported by a fixed spatial steel ring-truss of 123m diameter. The idea of this transformable roof stems from Shanghai's city flower (Magnolia). Its opening and closing resembles the blooming of a Magnolia Flower. The building illustrates the current development in transformable plate structure design that goes beyond converting an indoor space to an outdoor one. It is an example of the potential of spatial frame structures to integrate technology, science and art.

Figure 4. Aerial view of the Qizhong's retractable roof and its resemblance to Magnolia flower, pictures from

(http://www.culture.sh.cn) and (www.floridata.com)

3. Transformable structures and intelligent kinetic architecture

Considering architecture as a discipline which aims to benefit human beings, it is obvious that any developments in the architectural design process should be considered in such a way that they meet the user's ambitions, expectations and requirements. The more architecture takes into account these issues, the more effective and optimal the architecture that is created. Transformability as an innovative architectural feature can make this happen. While static conventional architecture may only involve the clients in the design process, a transformable building as a live body can involve its user before, during and after the design process. Therefore, a redefinition of architectural spaces is possible even after construction. Extendibility, multi-functionality, transportability, flexibility, environmental control and remote control of architecture, are opportunities that transformable architecture can offer to its users. The degree of success of this type of architecture is highly dependent on the ability of the structure to cope with dynamic loading conditions and to transform to a stable configuration that can meet both architectural and structural requirements. The precedents of interactive architecture that employed transformable structures are few and most of them are un-built projects. However, in this paper, in order to gain an initial understanding of this type of architecture one of the main design in this are is examined.

3.1. Mini sky-scrapper-MIT University

One of the examples that demonstrates the potential of transformable structures for interactive structures, is the design of a 35-foot-high mini-skyscraper at MIT University, School of Architecture. This tower uses the same transformation strategy as the muscle tower. The main difference is that it includes several similar modular articulated jointed units that stack on top of each other and are supported and transform by a number of tensile pneumatic muscles. The pneumatic muscles were made of cable sleeving mesh and bike tubing with metal fittings to integrate the valves and attachment points. The modules of the central core were built from a lightweight fibreglass composite (Wright, 2006). Compressive elements were placed inside the layers of the artificial pneumatic muscles. The activation of the air pumps allowed the structure to be bent in different directions by introducing a twist in the jointed core (fig. 5). The major advantage of the application of the pneumatic muscles is that they allowed the building to keep its stability against changing forces of the environment. They also had the ability to respond to people interacting with the structure.

This example shows that a responsive structure can not only interactively respond to its environment and user requirements, it can minimize the mass of the structural components and generate a lightweight structure that can be beautifully transformed. Guy Nordenson said "If architects designed a building like a body, it would have a system of bones and muscles and tendons and a brain that knows how to respond. If a building could change its posture, tighten its muscles and brace itself against the wind, its structural mass could literally be cut in half' (http://www.robotecture.com).

4. Summary

One of the crucial needs for architecture in the changing world is to respond to the changing requirements of its users and to allow them to experience their architectural ambition in reality through involvement in the architectural design process. Transformability can be considered as an important way to respond to the building user's ambitions. This paper has revealed a new approach toward the design of transformable architecture in recent years. What is important in these transformable designs is the way that architecture, art and structure are integrated in order to create buildings that go beyond merely responding to functional requirements and the solving of technical problems. The importance of these designs lie in the beauty of transformation, the simplicity of the transformation mechanism, the sculptural and artistic feature of the moveable components and the redefinition of architectural identity. The examination of the this type of architecture shows that transformation is not just a method for extending the space of a building from the indoor to the outdoor that occurs by means of a complicated structural transformation; rather it can redefines architectural spaces by implementing movable sculptural elements using simple yet aesthetically sophisticated transformation patterns. These buildings can keep their structural stability while interactively respond to user's feedback or continually reflect the environmental conditions. They can also create dynamic architectural spaces that provide users with opportunities to extend their creative, social, environmental and aesthetic knowledge. This paper reveals that, the idea of transformability can respond to the changing requirements of the users and to allow them to experience their architectural ambition in reality through involvement in the architectural design process. Transformability can also be considered as an important way to respond to the building user's ambitions.

References

Asefi, M. (2010),Transformable and Kinetic Architectural Structures, , VDM Verlag Publisher, Germany RASCH, B. (2000) Pavilion of Venezuela at Expo 2000. Detail, 6, 1070

TISCHHAUSER, A. & MOOS, S. (1998) Calatrava Public Buildings, Berlin, Birkhauser Verlag.

TZONIS, A. (1999) Santiago Calatrava: the Poetics of Movement, Great Britain, Thames & Hudson.

WRIGHT, S. H. (2006) Mini Skyscrapers 'Muscles' way on to campus. TechTalk: Serving the MIT Community, 50, 5-8.

http://www.culture.sh.cn, accessed on 03/02/2011

www.floridata.com, accessed on 20/05/2011

http://www.robotecture.com, accessed on 23/01/2012