This week I spotted a very interesting architectural research project taking place at the Computer Aided Architectural Design (ETHZ) in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) .ShapeShift is an experiment in future possibilities of architectural materialization. It is an exploration of electro-active polymer (EAP) at an architectural scale. EAP offers a new relationship to built space through its unique combination of properties like its ultra-lightweight, flexibility and its ability to change shape without the need for mechanical actuators.ShapeShift bridges gaps between advanced techniques in architectural design/fabrication and material science as well as pushing academic research towards real world applications.
Concept(from price Xenical website)
The application of new materials to architecture opens new possibilites to produce responsive built environments, but with out experimentation these new materials do not move out of the research laboratories in which they are being developed.
The initial idea for this project was to develop a component based adaptive surface through material experimentation. The chosen material was electroactive polymer (eap). In parallel with the initial material tests carried out at EMPA, various component shapes were explored through creating parametric models in Rhino/Grasshopper and produced using cnc fabrication in the RapLab (ETHZ).
(all images taken from ShapeShift website)