Humans, as a species have always been adept at changing and reforming themselves to suit the environment they exist in. Likewise, the structures that we use in our daily lives need to transform as well to serve our needs. Knowing this, architects around the world came up with the concept of ‘Kinetic architecture’, which means architecture with some elements that can change according to the requirements in real-time without compromising the structural integrity of the building. This concept has been used by many architects to design their buildings to improve the performance of the building, adapt to adverse environmental conditions, and also for simple aesthetic purposes.

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Here are some examples of Kinetic architecture around the world:

1. Milwaukee Art Museum:

World-famous architect Santiago Calatrava was one of the 3 designers of this museum with its distinguished pavilion. The Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee art Museum gained its fame due to its movable sun-shield with 217 feet wingspan that folds and unfolds according to the time of the day. Made up of 72 steel fins and weighing 90 tons, the wings take up to 3.5 minutes to open or close with the help of sensors located on them to measure wind speed and direction. 

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2. Al Bahr Towers: 

For the design of the two 25-floor office buildings in the arid climate of Abu Dhabi, The Aedas studio was recruited. The design team decided to introduce an active façade that responded to the trajectory of the sun and thus provided appropriate shade to the building at all times. The ‘Mashrabiya’ façade derived from ancient middle-eastern jali systems, consists of 1000 individual solar protectors which can be controlled by the building’s management systems. 

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3. The Sliding House:

For a retirement house in rural England, the Drmm architects build a seemingly simple house consisting of 3 barn-like buildings with an added twist of a movable roof. A 20-ton mobile roof enclosure moves linearly to the buildings to create various combinations of views, open-air living conditions, and light effects as per the wishes of the owner. Movement of this insulated steel structure on the tracks around the building is facilitated by hidden electric motors on wheels.

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4. Bund Finance Center:

The Bund Finance Center in Shanghai, China designed by the Foster and Partners design studio is famous worldwide for its three-layered kinetic façade. Each rotating layer of this façade, derived from the traditional Chinese theatre curtains, is made up of vertical bronze-colored stainless-steel pipes. Powered by electric motors, these curtains hang from the third floor and for several hours rotate around the building to the music.

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5. Arab World Institute:

Designed by multiple architects to be a center dedicated to the development of Arab-France culture, is a popular tourist destination which displays one of Jean Nouvel’s best façade designs. The innovative façade consists of responsive brise soleil inspired by Middle-Eastern jali systems on the southern side of the building. The system has many light-sensitive diaphragms that are used to regulate the amount of light that enters the building to modify the visual experience in internal spaces.

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6. The Operable Interactive Village Hut:

A 30 square-meter hut was designed by a team led by Professor Weiguo Xu from Tsinghua University to be used as a tourist reception center in the Wuji Zhuang village entrance. Among the 16 irregular panels which make up the structure, three are movable with the help of mechanical devices. According to the environmental conditions, these panels open when the temperature is 16-28 Celsius and close when the temperature either drops below 16 Celsius or soars above 28 Celsius.

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7. Safe House:

This innovative house by Polish architect Robert Konieczny is designed to give maximum security to the residents of the building. The rectangular building has parts of the walls which are movable to allow the residents to enjoy different views and spaces when they want, which can also be closed completely for safety reasons. 

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8. One Ocean Pavilion:

For the EXPO 2012, a pavilion was opened in Seoul, South Korea. This pavilion derives its design from the water body around it with the added fin-like skin as its façade to reinforce the nautical theme. This cutting-edge façade system consists of many glass-fiber-reinforced polymers which allow it to move in various patterns mimicking the biological movement of living organisms.

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9. Sharifi-Ha house: 

The uniqueness of this 1400 square-meter house designed by NextOffice–Alireza Taghaboni team lies in its movable rooms. Referencing old Iranian homes, the house opens up to offer light, ventilation, and large terraces in the summertime. In winter, the house closes up against the harsh cold climate of Tehran offering minimal openings to retain heat.

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10. Kiefer Technic Showroom:

Completed in 2007, the Kiefer Technic Showroom is an office building with an exhibition face covered by an exemplary façade which can change according to the environmental conditions. This façade is made up of aluminum posts and transoms with protruding brides used for maintenance which is operated by electronic mechanizations.

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Author

An architect who strongly believes that architecture can influence and bring about a change in society for the better. While actively involved in humanitarian work, a lot of her free time is spent in reading, thinking about life and writing about her revelations.'

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