Exhibition Catalogue

Fan Light

Jo Fairfax



Fan Light responds to people’s movements by unfurling and revealing an inner space. The performance starts with a dimming of the lights, creating a sense of anticipation. Once the performance of a projected dancer has concluded, the projection slowly fades and Fan Light then returns to being a full circle again. Fan Light thereby creates a renewed sense of protection and privacy for the next viewer. This wall-hung artefact exemplifies a new kind of artwork adding an interactive, time-based component to the appreciation of art. Its combination of ephemeral, projected artwork and a physical presence creates a magical scene into which viewers enter.

An Internet of Soft Things

Sarah Kettley



An Internet of Soft Things envisions a world in which fabrics worn, held, slept in and sat on can link us with each other, and with support networks and services essential for mental wellbeing. These soft materials allow us to communicate how we are feeling, and in turn let others communicate with us. The smart textile interfaces of An Internet of Soft Things offer shared experiences involving throws, pillows, and other soft furnishings, extending the vision of smart textiles beyond just the wearable garment. These objects are networked to enable a sense of community within mental health services and could be used in therapeutic relationships. A team including interactive textile developers, computer scientists and psychotherapists worked with Nottinghamshire Mind Network to develop physical, fabric-based objects as well as a novel methodology of co-designing such textiles and their interactions.

The Aug-cycle

Simone Ferracina



Aug-cycle is a paradigm for dealing with household waste; a software for recycling (by digital overlay) matter; for continuing to perceive it as non-broken, or fashionable, even after the point at which we would usually throw something away. The objects (for instance, an old shoe) under the Perspex appear to be broken, dirty and unusable. Yet, on the screen of an Augmented Reality overlay, they become augmented: rejuvenated, new, repaired, even enticing (a 3D scan of the object as new, or digitally embroidered). In an architectural context, this allows speculation about how people will inhabit physical spaces the experience of which has been transformed by digital technologies, possibly in different ways for each and every one of us.


Rachel Armstrong & Simone Ferracina (with Gary Caldwell, Ioannis Ieropoulos, Lauren Wallis and Jiseon You), Living Architecture Consortium

Brick-o-Lamp proposes an adaptive and responsive construction unit and luminaire that is powered by the metabolism of microorganisms and combines two types of bioreactors: a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a photo-bioreactor, as well as a light source.  The prototype constitutes the last in a series that develop living technologies as the basis for a paradigm shift in the choreography and inhabitation of architectural space in the 21st century.

Acknowledgments: The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant Agreement no. 686585.

Web: http://livingarchitecture-h2020.eu/

Brick Dialogues

Rachel Armstrong & Rolf Hughes


Brick Dialogues explores spoken exchanges between a living brick and a human. It confronts the negotiations that take place between a ‘living’ elemental module of architectural construction (the brick) and its inhabitants. An audio recording captures ‘dialogues’ between humans and nonhumans through the principles of composting. Then, the human voice is subjected to transformation through its relationship with bacteria and worms, resulting in the ‘speakers’ uttering irreconcilable languages, coexisting and, consequently, tolerating differences. In this way it escapes semantic orthodoxy and comes closer to the micro-transformations of the composting process.

Flow Reader

Pierangelo Scravaglieri



Flow Reader artfully visualises the movements of inhabitants as they move through space. Projections are activated by liquids that channel waves of diffuse motion within the space of the gallery. Two streams of water droplets produce a low current of electricity, which intermittently powers a light source. This light source illuminates the ripples created by the streams and projects them onto the floor. This form of sensing and revealing of vibrations in space makes us aware of our surroundings, which otherwise would go unnoticed. Being able to see even subtle changes in the space surrounding us may reconnect us with more subtle, hidden dimensions of the built environment.


Sara Nabil; David Kirk



ActuEater is an actuated table-runner (a traditional decorative centre-piece for dining tables) that changes its physical shape in response to people’s interactions around the table. It responds to proximity and touch both by the diners’ hands or tableware. ActuEater shows how an interactive interior element can be simultaneously a resource for social engagement and a dynamic decorative artefact. We explore the implications of this for situating novel technologies in everyday settings, focusing on ‘discoverability’ and ‘legibility’ of interactive spaces in-the-wild, and critically consider how decorative artefacts enhanced with shape-changing and colour-changing interactivity can offer new aesthetic possibilities for adaptive interior spaces.


Sara Nabil; Nikoletta Karastathi



Inspired by the bacterial growth patterns and dissemination paths on a surface, BacterioChromic is an actuating wall-art that changes its patterns to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance of microscopic members of our ecology, thus revealing the unseen. Envisioning future interior spaces that can be artfully dynamic and adaptive by highlighting changes in a realm outside our senses. It attempts to draw our attention to the world of bacteria, which develop antimicrobial resistance to survive despite our ever-evolving antibiotic treatments. Using thermo-chromic pigments and fabrics, BacterioChromic changes its patterns to show high-risk and low-risk resistance areas and can potentially feed from real-time data of antimicrobial resistance across the UK.

Proto-tectonic Structures

Asterios Agkathidis



Increasingly, membranes and textiles are being used to form roofs, facades, inflatable cushions, pneumatic structures, and tents. Active Membranes explores the use of stretchable membranes together with cutting-edge 3D printing technology and actuation technologies. This could enable the use of active membranes of varying scales ranging from temporary adaptable buildings, to adaptable façade elements, to clothing and even jewellery. Shown here are projects developed in the ‘Parametric Design & Fabrication’ module (MA in Architecture programme) at Liverpool School of Architecture. The experimental prototypes seek to establish a formal behaviour vocabulary, which can ultimately be translated into real-world adaptive environments.

Anyone Who has a Heart

Andrew Small



Anyone Who Has a Heart displays heart rate amongst a variety of other interactive functions, it was commissioned for the new Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Holding onto the stainless steel handgrips monitors heart rate and translates that rate into a pulsing red light display, changing from the default ‘breathing’ blue light. Walking around the sculpture triggers infrared sensors also changing the light sequences. The artwork plays with the formal and clinical tropes of hospital monitoring equipment in an attempt to soften and humanise the intimidating nature of interaction with hospital architecture and apparatus. People have found new ways to interact and create random interactions that where not originally intended.

Web: www.andrewsmall.org.uk

Experimental Architecture

Martyn Dade-Robertson, Luis Hernan, Aurelie Guyet, Carolina Ramirez Figueroa and students


The video represents the design work of Stage 3 (Third Year Undergraduate) Architectural Design students at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. The students are tasks with designing a component of a building skin which adapts to humidity in the environment by opening and closing apertures using a type of hygromophic (shape changing in response to water) material based on the use of bacteria spores. The video shows experiments building different types of actuators based on the bacteria spore system; developing a series of sketch designs for different mechanisms and producing a final prototype.

Light and Dark

Nils Jäger; John Mardeljevic



Light and Dark shows a time-lapse of university spaces fitted with photo chromatic windows. These windows are both automated via a sensor as well as individually controllable by users of the space.  The video shows how the interior of the space changes based on the windows’ state, allowing fine-grained control over interior light levels and solar heat gain, and how this corresponds to the exterior appearance of the building.

Digital Capabilities

Peter Baldwin, Barbara Griffin, Richard Wright

Digital Capabilities is a test bed for the use of Narrative as a trigger for spatial adaption through the interconnectivity of spatial experience provided by social media. Two differently themed areas of planting were separated by a dynamic partition of motorized panels that opened and closed in response to Twitter activity. The side closest to the physical observer featured plants native to the UK, while on the other side, more unfamiliar foliage were revealed when panels opened. The articulating surface of the wall serves to mimic the filtering effect of social media, and to physically manifest our otherwise ephemeral digital interactions.

Pynchon’s Wall

Peter Baldwin



Pynchon’s Wall is a dynamic façade designed to display social entropy and syntropy as conceived in Thomas Pynchon’s short story ‘Entropy’ (Pynchon, 1957), which is curiously resonant with social media. It responds to online human activity by reading the energy value of the content of tweets. These energy values power the movement of the façade, allowing these digital interactions to manifest a physical consequence. By providing the opportunity for direct engagement to the local audience the façade engages directly with the narrative of the space in which it is installed.

Breathing Space

Holger Schnädelbach; Nils Jäger; Kevin Glover; Anthony Brown


Breathing Space is a new adaptive environment that allows two people to share biofeedback of their breathing. Breathing is reflected in the up and down movement of the environment: as an inhabitant of Breathing Space breathes in, part of the environment will move upward. When they breathe out, it moves down again. This is achieved by the use of two wirelessly connected respiration belts. Inhabitants find that this helps them to breathe more slowly and more regularly, it allows people to  synchronise with each other and both can have a calming effect.

Acknowledgements: Supported by the University of Nottingham through the Nottingham Research Fellowship ‘The Built Environment as the Interface to Personal Data’.


Holger Schnädelbach; Hendro Arieyanto



MOVE is an architectural prototype and research platform to explore the relationship of body movements and movements in adaptive architecture. Using a Kinect motion sensor, MOVE tracks the gross body movements of a person and allows the flexible mapping of those to the movement of building components. In this way, a person inside MOVE can immediately explore the creation of spatial configurations around them as they are created through the body. Work with Tetsudo martial arts performers demonstrated how it feeds back on people’s performance, how it becomes a valuable training tool and how it extends people’s representation in space.

Acknowledgements: Supported by the University of Nottingham through the Nottingham Research Fellowship ‘The Built Environment as the Interface to Personal Data’ and the EPSRC via grant EP/M000877/1 ‘Living with Digital Ubiquity’.