The Shape Shifters: Building with Kinetic Architectures

in Architecture+Design7 months ago

Our primordial instinct dictates us to be adept at changes and reform ourselves to suit the environment. Technology evolves to fit our needs to ease the routines we have. Likewise, buildings need to transform to sought our needs. Architects developed a flexible design that enables structures to move in real-time without compromising the structure's integrity which is kinetic architecture. The building is capable of adapting to adverse environmental conditions when needed.

Kinetic architecture is not a new concept. It existed in the Middle Ages or earlier in the drawbridges. To date, architects explored ways to infuse movement in building superstructures. It may be shifting windows or transforming houses. There are three themes commonly adapted in kinetic architecture: retractable roofs or folding bridges, shape-shifting structures with impressive aesthetics, and surface movement.

The kinetic architecture provides a different sense of functionality to a building or structures. We often see kinetic architecture applied in functional edifices such as bridges and stadiums. Some bridges open up their midsection to allow the passage of vessels, which have a higher elevation than the bridge's clearance.

Wembley National Stadium

Wembley National Stadium

The old Wembley Stadium was an iconic sporting venue in Britain. In 1966, it is where they held the Football World Cup finals. They reinvented the stadium and opened it for use in 2007. It houses 90,000 seats. With 90,000 seats, it is almost four times elevation and covering twice the area as compared to the old stadium. The new stadium is the largest covered arena in the world. The new stadium has a relatively high steel arch that supports its sliding roof.

Wembley National Stadium

The stadium wants all spectators to enjoy the experience, which the designer designed larger seats with much legroom. The higher tier can It has escalators to be access using escalators. A concourse wraps around the premises that provide catering to at least 40,000 people at once.

Wembley National Stadium

The stadium has a retractable roof, which ensures everyone experience comforts in all weather. When the canopy is open, it ensures that the turf receives sufficient sunlight. It also airs the stadium for the spectators to be comfortable. It closes when there is poor weather and covers the entire seating bowl.

The kinetic architecture enables aesthetically appealing transformations. This theme revolves around fantastic structures that have shape-shifting capability to produce impressive visuals. A famous building that uses it is the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Milwaukee Art Museum

The world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava was one of the designers of the museum with an exceptional pavilion. Calatrava designed the Quadracci Pavillion to create a new image for the museum. It depicts a modern white structure that looks like a ship jutting out the water. It gains fame due to its movable sun-shield that folds and unfolds according to the time of the day.

Milwaukee Art Museum

The pavilion's kinetic structure is a delight. It has a wing-like brise-soleil with louvers that open and close depending on the time of the day. It has 72 steel fins that weigh about 90 tons each. The wings take 3.5 minutes to open or close. It has sensors that measure wind speed and direction. When the structures opened, the shape becomes a sign. It is set against the lake to serve as a backdrop. It depicts that there is an inauguration of new exhibitions.

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum houses an atrium at the shore level. It has a gallery space for temporary exhibitions. Aside from that, it houses a 300 seat capacity lecture hall for the education center. In the pavilion, people can have a good meal at the restaurant, which has panoramic views of the lake.

The last theme in kinetic structure is surface transformation. Buckminster Fuller called it skin-like articulation. It often uses robotics in transforming edifice. The Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris exhibits this theme. The building has a metallic screen that unfolds with moving geometric motifs. It has a high-tech brise soleil that regulates the level of light and heat exposure when it opens and closes.

Institute du Monde Arabe

They constructed the institute to serve as a devotion to the relationship of the Arab culture with France. Jean Nouvel designed the Institute du Monde Arabe. His attention to detail prevails with the facade detailing of Institute du Monde Arabe. It used advanced responsive brise soleil on the south façade that protects from the sun and privacy. He gets a lot of its design from Arabic architecture, which is the mashrabiyya.

Institute du Monde Arabe

stringio (1).jpg
Institute du Monde Arabe

stringio (2).jpg
Façade detailing of Institute du Monde Arabe

The institute placed several hundred light-sensitive diaphragms, which regulate the amount of light flowing through the building. Various phases of the lens shift to different geometric patterns of light and void. The interior spaces improve their ambiance as the lens changes and the exterior. It improves the aesthetics of the structure and mitigates solar gains by reducing the aperture size. Nouvel won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989, and the Equirre d’Argent for French architecture in 1987.

The kinetic architecture provides a unique solution to architectural design, specifically on adaptation to environmental conditions. In contrast, static struggles in providing solutions to problems on adaptation. Kinetic architecture is a design concept that addresses the need for design that adapts to adverse environmental conditions, and for better aesthetic quality.


  1. Wembley National Stadium
  2. Milwaukee Art Musuem
  3. Institute du Monde Arabe
  4. When kinetic architecture brings buildings to life
  5. Kinetic Buildings that Move

As architecture continues to evolve for the better, we would be seeing more technological advancements in the near future. Kinetic architecture is one of these fantastic innovations. Who knows? Perhaps buildings someday might also become like the Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, etc.) with their shape-shifting characteristics. Superb post @juecoree!

I can't wait to see building like taken from a sci-fi movie to become real. The idea of a transformer like building excites me. Thanks you for taking some time to appreciate the post, @storiesoferne!

Indeed, that would be exciting! If you find one, please let me know immediately lol. 😆

Yeah I will. 😀

Institute du Monde Arabe looks quite simple but the detailing that you have mentioned is really amazing

I agree that the Institute du Monde Arabe has an intricate detailing. I think most of kinetic structures has superb detailing. The detailing is not just for aesthetics but also to provide better ambiance inside the building. Thank you for dropping, @coffeelovers!

That's a wonderful post, Kinetic screams presence of movement in architecture. On adaptation aspect as you mentioned, it indeed provides a solution to environmental conditions.
Keep posting, have a great week:)

Hi @sabiha-rana! Kinetic structures may give us more sustainability solution in architecture. I couldn't agree more that kinetic structures screams movement. Thank you for taking same time to engage in my post.

That title is catchy! That's a great post there, kinetic architecture is MIND BLOWING, The high tech technology involved behind creating them is commendable.
Keep posting, Keep flourishing.

I could not agree more. Kinetic structures are like building taken from a sci-fi book or a movie. The technology is superb to be able to full off such structures. Thank you for engaging in my post, @praditya!

Great post @juecoree, these are excellent works of kinetic architecture. I have always been fascinated by Jean Nouvel's ideas such as the mashrabiya to control light.

Jean Novel's architecture has a peculiar and experimental theme to it. I agree that it is fascinating. Thank you for taking time to engage in my post, @discoveringarni!

Wow! That was amazing! Institute du Monde Arabe was amazing!

Hi @kennyroy! I agree that Institute du Monde Arabe is amazing. The façade detailing is superb. By the way, thanks for talking time to engage in my post.

Nice post...the shape shifting buildings...we too, sometimes need to "adapt"
our "shape" in life. 😉

It is a good metaphor. Thanks for engaging in the post, @luca1777!

Thanks, you're welcome 😉

!discovery 35

This post was shared and voted inside the discord by the curators team of discovery-it
Join our community! hive-193212
Discovery-it is also a Witness, vote for us here
Delegate to us for passive income. Check our 80% fee-back Program

Congratulations @juecoree! You have completed the following achievement on the Hive blockchain and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

You distributed more than 28000 upvotes.
Your next target is to reach 29000 upvotes.

You can view your badges on your board and compare yourself to others in the Ranking
If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

Hello @juecoree, just dropping by to congratulate you. Continue to inspire us with your unique topics and creative content!


The Architecture+Design Community is an Active Member of the OCD Communities Incubation Program
Find out more about the community comprehensive guidelines