As more sophisticated technology worms its mechanical way into our homes, the very walls that keep the rain from our heads will become “smarter.” That means technology will further augment existing setups, giving us applications like smart lighting that can detect and change according to our mood. And, say you combine developments in synthetic biology with “smart houses” and mobile phone applications. Then homeowners will be able to install a whole range of hybrid technologies, combining cybernetics with chemistry so your home can respond to changes in its environment.
Anyway, this could all be a long way off, but it doesn’t stop people from experimenting. Take this installation Phototropia which explores how smart materials might be used in an architectural environment. It’s part of a continuous project by the Master of Advanced Studies class at the Chair for CAAD, what they call a “self-sufficient architectural vision.”
I’ll let them explain the building blocks of the Phototropia piece, which are “self-made electro-active polymers, screen-printed electroluminescent displays, eco-friendly bioplastics and thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells.” These combine for an autonomous structure that creates energy from sunlight and responds to those around it with moving and illuminating parts, making it appear as though it were breathing. Energy is stored beneath in batteries and microcontrollers are used to administer it to appropriate areas.
It might not look as cosy as an English country cottage, but it’s a glimpse into a future where homes become more self-sustainable, interconnected, and responsive.