Aaron Kettl | Part 1 The Physical Environment
I am a multidisciplinary professional with experience in human centered design, user experience, design strategy and visual communication. My skills are in uncovering and translating customer insights into actionable principles to design around core need. I believe in prototyping as a fundamental tool throughout my design process.
design strategy, user experience, design thinking, design, prototype, prototyping, rapid prototyping, strategy, visual design, mobile design, usability, ios, experience design, MBA, MBA in Design Strategy, DMBA,
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PART 1
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
“To dare to put forward ideas, to offer up visions and to realize the unexpected requires pushing the imagination.”
UN StudioMovie: Imagination (Van Berkel, Bos, 1999)
Tri-Fabric
The physical environment can be imagined as a constantly fluctuating amalgamation of interweaving layers. As this tapestry mixes with life, it extends across the surface of the earth and shapes a dynamic environment that is rich with movement. Existing within these dynamics is the paradoxically static built environment, which consists almost solely of permanent physical assemblies.

 

As the context of a building develops over time and the use of a building changes, adaptation becomes a crucial part of a building’s existence. Buildings should be flexible and have the capability of responding to contextual changes in order to strengthen their performance and lengthen their lifespan. Humans respond to climate shifts through the changing of clothes; animals respond by gaining and shedding fur or body mass. Similarly, buildings should be limber and invite people to flex, adjust, and operate them, allowing for a responsive action to changes in climate or shifts in a building’s program. This approach to flexible architecture generates a kinetic environment that breathes life into buildings and allows for constant adaptation and versatility.

KINETIC RESPONSE
“The Kinetic City, bazaar-like in form, creates an ever-transforming streetscape that enables a city to be in constant motion, where the very physical fabric is characterized by the kinetic.”
Rahul Mehrotra (2007)

KINETIC RESPONSE

The static built environment begs for a new performance strategy that allows itself to breathe life amongst the constantly shifting layers of the physical environment. If a building is to perform within this amalgamation of movement, should it not think for itself and respond to changes in its environment? As the context of a building develops over time and the use of a building changes, adaptation becomes a crucial part of a building’s existence.

 

Buildings should be flexible and have the capability to respond to contextual changes, like shifts in climate or increases in occupancy load, in order to strengthen their performance and lengthen their lifespan. Similar to how humans respond to climate shifts through the changing of clothes, buildings should be limber to invite people to flex, adjust, and operate them, allowing for a responsive action to changes in climate or shifts in a building’s program. Buildings could become chameleon-like to match the needs of the social fabric and the changes within their environments. This approach to flexible architecture generates a kinetic environment that breathes life into buildings and allows for constant adaptation and versatility. By freeing buildings from their static form, they invite movement, morphing, and changing shape all of which could greatly improve building performance and the shaping of space.

This is my interpretation of the kinetic city
Image of “Walking City” - Archigram, 1964

Image of “Walking City” - Archigram, 1964

WALKING CITY

Curiosity arose about the ever-changing environment created by the movement that was inspired by the 1964 drawing by Archigram of “Walking City,” which depicted a city that could sprout legs and relocate. Everything about this drawing questions what a city should be through the contrast of a typical city skyline in the background to the Walking City with its sprouting legs as it walks through the bay, capturing the focus of the built environment. It implies that the built environment is capable of kinetically operating and coming to life. The experience within the environment that this drawing depicts is a heightened interaction with a built environment, saturated with movement, that seems alive and able to think and respond to its environment on its own. Morphing is a term used to describe a process in which an object changes its form gradually in order to obtain another form noticeably different in appearance, character, condition, or function (Terzidis, 2003). Buildings are often perceived as static objects and the act of morphing buildings or building parts implies movement that liberates them from the previously fixed nature after construction and allows the potential for infinite possibilities of change in building form.
Metaphysical Construction
Physical modeling is a tool executed through the assemblage of material to illustrate a construction within three-dimensional space for the purpose of exploration and analysis. When using the device of a model as an instrument to explain, information is exchanged more rapidly because it applies the same rules as the physical environment that people understand intimately through their personal experiences. The ability to engage a model exceeds any other representation device because the viewer can touch, rotate, and move it to understand its physical quality.

 

The Metaphysical Construction is a device for explaining the potential dialogue of the social fabric with the built environment. This device is designed to be held in two hands and is capable of the mechanical quality of twisting. The device represents the kinetically assembled built environment that has the potential of reacting or responding built within its DNA. A person must hold the device in their hands and twist it, which results in a change in the object. The interaction of a participant is necessary to view the dialogue between the two. The person represents the social fabric and the twisting represents the interaction with the built environment. The object itself has very little meaning, but after the participant manipulates it, it becomes much more valuable because it can be interacted with and operated. The potential for interaction is a quality that the built environment should have as an invitation to foster a rich dialogue with the social fabric.

Kinetic Construction
In Urban Flotsam, Raoul Bunschoten pointed out that a dynamic model reveals its organization relative to time and space. A model allows a change in scale that improves analysis and experimentation through a simulation (Bunschoten, Hoshino & Binet, 2002).

 

The Kinetic Construction is a device that illustrates the spatial effect of a kinetic building assembly. This device is designed to encapsulate an elevated space with a very simple geometry so the kinetic affects may be obvious. The envelope of the space is constructed of two folded acrylic planes that are mounted on rollers and have the kinetic DNA of sliding in opposite directions of one another. When a force is applied to both parts they begin to slide, which opens the space and drastically changes the quality of the space.

MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION

Though this thesis proposes kinetic solutions for the built environment, static assemblies must also be present in order for parts to be kinetic. With every hinge there is always a fixed object to hinge from. There is always a dominant structure that supports the movement of secondary devices. Nate Hudson, an instructor at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, pointed out that the hinge and the slide are the foundational elements of kinetic architecture, and every form of kinetic device can be simplified to these two actions (Hudson, 2009).

 

For building parts to become kinetic and set in motion, lightweight and flexible materials or a strong and rigid material that can endure the added force of movement are needed. Because of the inflexibility and inferior precision of many other building materials, the ideal building material capable of achieving such an ambitious goal is steel. Steel has the strength, rigidity, longevity, and precision to withstand both movement and time in addition to being a non-diminishing and ever-recyclable material. Its highly mechanical nature also invites transformation and manipulation. By using steel, sliding and pivoting mechanisms can be easily designed and fabricated in order to shape the foundational elements of kinetic architecture.

 

There are other performative materials that embody responsive and adaptive qualities, such as malleable fabrics, but they must have a stronger element like a frame made of different material for support. Wood is undesirable because it splinters and deteriorates over time. Furthermore, the added force of movement would weaken the material. Concrete is also a bad material to move because in every moveable assembly, there is always a part that is in tension. This is a directional force and is the weakness of concrete. Concrete, however, is a material that has good compressional strength so it can function well as a static supporting element for kinetic architecture. Surface-responsive materials can change the length, chemical composition, architecture, and topology of the chains, which allows response mechanisms and rates to be easily manipulated (Russell, 2002).

PART 2
ECO-GADGET
WIND TURBINE DEVICE