Architectural Convertibles: Towards an alternative artistic approach to designing interactive architectural environments

Our project is inspired by the notion of architectural matter/flesh. The term ‘flesh’ is an architectural metaphor, which counters the reductive understanding of a building envelope as flat and thin membrane. In our project, the architectural flesh, in contrast to the architectural skin, is understood as a thick entity, a bulky substance.

In relation to that 3-dimensional understanding of architectural flesh, the core problem we seek to challenge is the yet unfulfilled role of architectural matter in interactive structures. In the current research and practice, it is often treated as a flat thin layer which covers the interactive technical gear. Designers seldom engage the 3-dimensional qualities of architectural flesh to enable a direct contact of users with architecture, achieved through the touch of the hands and/or manual transformations.

In our project we will challenge this notion, by seeking for unconventional ways to mobilize the architectural flesh and to turn it into a 3-dimensional interface, which cultivates an intensified tactile relationship between architecture and its users.

The project will be carried out in three phases, in which we will work on the verge of digital design, design methodology, applied esthetics, digital fabrication, physical computing and interaction design.

We believe that our investigation could inspire the future design of interactive environments. Given that many of today’s interactive structures represent prototypes of the future user-adaptive building skins, it seems that any alternative glimpses into how to enrich their artistic production processes could significantly affect the image of responsive architecture of the future.

Project leader:
Malgorzata Zboinska, Chalmers University of Technology

Collaborators (alphabetically):
Eva Amborg, Chalmers University of Technology
Monica Billger, Chalmers University of Technology
Delia Dumitrescu, University of Borås
Karin Hedlund, Chalmers University of Technology
Ulrika Karlsson, University of Arts, Crafts and Design Konstfack
Hanna Landin, University of Borås
Peter Ljungstrand, RISE Interactive Institute
Pablo Miranda Carranza, Royal Institute of Technology
Fredrik Nilsson, Chalmers University of Technology
Gunnar Oledal, RISE Interactive Institute
Fredrik Trella, RISE Interactive Institute

Partner organizations

  • RISE Research Institutes of Sweden (Research Institute, Sweden)
  • University of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack) (Academic, Sweden)
  • University of Borås (Academic, Sweden)
  • University of Borås (Publisher, Sweden)
  • Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) (Academic, Sweden)
Start date 01/01/2016
End date The project is closed: 31/12/2019
​Ulrika Karlsson,
Pablo Miranda Carranza

Funded by

  • Swedish Research Council (VR) (Public, Sweden)
​KTH Royal Institute of Technology & Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts & Design

Published: Sat 14 Mar 2020.