Kinetic Buildings

Moveable Feasts: Dynamic structures with large-scale operable elements adapt and transform, responding to changing needs.
Sponsored by Pilkington North America – NSG Group
Architectural Record
By Joann Gonchar, AIA

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss the design, construction, and operational challenges presented by buildings with large-scale kinetic elements.
  2. Describe three such current projects and explain the mechanisms that allow their kinetic elements to move.
  3. Explain the structural solutions presented by these projects.
  4. Explain the indoor environmental-control solutions presented by these projects.

This course is part of the Zoos, Museums, and Arts Academy

Buildings are generally designed to be permanent, immutable structures. But this is not always the case. In the early 1960s, the British architect Cedric Price proposed a “Fun Palace” to be built on the banks of the Thames in London. It was to be ever-changing, with moving and reconfigurable walls and floors. Price’s vision was never realized, but structures with large-scale transformable elements, being built for sports teams and as cultural venues, are the heirs to his ideas.

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Computer rendering of The Shed.

Image courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group

The Shed, a multidisciplinary arts venue under construction in Manhattan, includes an ETFE-clad diagrid shell that can be moved to cover a plaza.

This test is no longer available for credit
Originally published in Architectural Record