In this essay the co-authors, Christina Lanzl and Anne-Catrin Schultz, investigate an international interdisciplinary group of noted architects, engineers, artists, and scientists in a survey of the present and future of kinetic applications in facade design. Focus is a selection of projects that involve kinetic mechanisms, explore potential already realized and evolving visions.
Architecture is typically associated with a sense of permanence, solidity and the perception that it stands still. At the same time, architects and engineers have been intrigued for centuries by more flexibility. They have attempted to mobilize elements, to create responsive facades that react to site conditions, microclimate and the users’ desires.
Kinetic architecture relates to the terms of movement, bringing a reactive potential that allows users and visitors alike to interact with the building or part of it. Mapping site conditions such as wind, sun and shadow or movement and the presence of spectators might be processed and visualized in moving parts as a process of kinetic mapping. It is often facades that include the dynamics of this kind of interaction, the simplest version being a blind to keep out the sun or a power circuit to render a transparent wall opaque. Kinetic mechanisms are used in the art world to engage with buildings and the city and in the engineering world to satisfy increasingly complex requirements of sustainability.