Adaptive Architecture is concerned with buildings that are specifically designed to be adaptive to their surroundings and to their inhabitants. Originally, such adaptivity was achieved by providing architectural elements that could be controlled manually. Over the last century, this was then augmented with powered and automated adaptations to make buildings more convenient, energy efficient and comfortable. The revolution in information technology has today led to the discussion of smart homes and smart cities, where sensors, actuators, computation and data exchange are fundamental to what architecture is and how it can be lived in.

As is evident from this exhibition, an enormous amount of experimentation occurs in this area. This stretches from fundamental research into biological processes and materials, to novel uses of sensing and actuating technologies, from the use of personal data and social media to the exploration of structure, animation and performance. We have brought together works that allow use to consider how we live with such Adaptive Architecture as it is emerging around us, created by Architects, Engineers, Computer Scientists and Artists.

Exhibits are broadly presented in three overlapping zones:

Materials and Mechanisms

We surface on-going experimentations with how biological processes, materials and actuating mechanisms will impact the buildings that we inhabit. This includes building components that double as luminaries and those that record and transform our conversations. In addition, works presented here explore how buildings might be altered in form and appearance via the application of novel actuation mechanisms and techniques.

Connection to the City

We explore how people live with architectural adaptivity that connects to the exterior and wider urban space. This includes facade technologies that allow the manipulation of the threshold between exterior and interior, the use of narrative to change the character and appearance of buildings, and the projection of otherwise very personal data into wider urban space.


We explore what it will be like to live with Adaptive Architecture in our homes by considering its impacts on furnishings, tableware, art, and interior design. This includes works that connect multiple tangible artefacts to support wellbeing and those that react to inhabitants’ interactions and changes in the environment. We consider works that are performative in response to people and those that mirror movement as well as physiological data.

A categorised overview of Adaptive Architecture is provided here:

Adaptive Architecture Framework

Living with Adaptive Architecture is supported by:

The University of Nottingham

Lincoln University

University of Loughborough

The exhibition is an outcome of the Nottingham Research Fellowship ‘The Built Environment as the Interface to Personal Data’