A Robotic Ceiling Sets the Precedent for AI Architecture

GIFs courtesy the artist

Architect and interaction designer Behnaz Farahi has created a number of mind-bendingly futuristic and inspiring installations, from breathing walls to morphing headpieces. Her latest, Aurora, an interactive ceiling installation on permanent display at the University of Southern California, explores the future of the “built environment."

A research collaboration between MEML lab, USC, and SteelCase Inc., Aurora sees Farahi dreaming of how a building, especially an interior, could be dynamic, understand users through their movements, and respond accordingly. The interactive ceiling gives visitors a sense of how artificial intelligence might augment architectural spaces.

“Will architectural spaces be able to incorporate interactivity, unpredictability and motion in order to serve as a kinetic interface, communicating stories of the activities of its inhabitants?” Farahi muses. “And will the dynamic soft architecture of future be able to convey information about the activities of users within the space, just as by looking at the surface of the ocean, one can read the wind direction?”

“The main intention behind this work is to design a space that can detect users and reconfigure its shape according to their bodily movements,” Farahi adds. “By tracking bodily movements with Kinect Motion Capture Camera this installation is an attempt to develop a deeper understanding of embodiment and to produce more intuitive experiences. This project aims to rethink the conventional rigid, solid architectural space through its combination of shape changing form, responsive lighting, adaptable spaces, and interactive responses.”

For Farahi, it is also an attempt to reimagine the possibilities of “sensory spaces” and “robotic architectural agency.” Check out Aurora in action below: 

Aurora from Behnaz Farahi on Vimeo.

Click here to see more of Behnaz Farahi’s work.


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