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الثلاثاء، 5 أغسطس، 2014

Performative Materials : A Material Approach Towards Dynamic Response in Architecture

Author        : Samar Hamdy Hamed El-Tahhan
Degree        : M.Sc. Architecture
Title: Performative Materials : A Material Approach Towards Dynamic Response in Architecture 
Abstract
Responsive architecture denotes a performative emphasis on inducing the response of building elements to the disparate contextual changes that are constantly in flux such as functional and climatic changes. Unfortunately, built environments up till now are restricted to huge mechanical systems while their functional and visual impact is rather debatable due to their myriad contrivances and complex configurations that engender operational problems in addition to their immense energy consumption.
While most attempts towards architectural responsiveness rely heavily on technical hard components, this thesis aims at exploring the potentials of the responsive capacity of the material itself instead, where the material structure itself is the machine, in an attempt to remedy the problems exhibited by the mechanical systems. The research investigates performative materials as an alternative approach which emphasizes on the responsive performance of the material rather than perceiving it as a static artefact. A particular focus is attributed to shape-changing materials which exhibit the ability to alter their shape and develop dynamic behavioural transformations induced by external stimuli. The thesis investigates responsive architecture and the conventional methods of realizing it, after which, it provides an in depth exploration of material systems as architectural responsive implementations, in a two-fold interrelated manner: firstly, through the embedment of smart materials and particularly the ones exhibiting shape-changing properties, and secondly, through exploiting the material make-up behind natural materials, particularly wood. This concludes with a framework for designing responsive material systems which is abstracted and utilized as analysis criteria for the case studies. In order to deeply delve into the potentials of the material approach, material innovations are probed through the analysis of selected research projects as case studies, however marginal they may be, to give emphasis to these developments as well as attempting to foresee new directions in the material landscape for realizing responsive architecture. The propounded approach expedites a shift from the current mechanical paradigm towards a ’soft’ material approach of seamless material integration. The most obvious finding to emerge from this study is that smart and natural materials both exhibit momentous potentials and promising responses when employed architecturally, as they are able to dynamically respond to changes with utterly no energy required through immanent response. The research also shows that even though responsive material systems hold significant potentials, few drawbacks accompany such emerging approach. Taken together, the research considers material systems as a propitious platform for realizing responsive architecture that is capable of emulating mechanical systems.

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