Less than 10 percent of the billions of tons of plastic ever produced has been recycled, with much of it winding up in the Earth's oceans where the plastic disrupts ecosystems and releases toxic chemicals. In response, researchers led by Neri Oxman of MIT’s Mediated Matter Group, which focuses on “nature-inspired design and design-inspired nature,” have devised a new materials that they say, in somewhat biblical terms, go “from water to water.” The substances include a structure made of biocomposite skins derived from cellulose, chitosan, and pectin, some of the most abundant biopolymers on earth, in everything from tree branches to insect exoskeletons to common fruits to human bones. The researchers have put these new composites to the test in a 16-foot-tall pavilion named Aguahoja I (literally, water-sheet in Spanish), the culmination of six years of intense research into material science and robotic fabrication. Panels, comprising a top layer of chitosan and cellulose with a bottom layer of apple pectin and chitosan, were 3D-printed in various compositions to affect their rigidity and strength, color and color-changing abilities, transparency, and responses to heat and humidity, as well as their load-bearing abilities. This means, according to the lab, that the materials are functionally "programmable." Because of this variability, a variety of facade or load-bearing structural components can be generated from the same process, and the size is limited only by that of the printer. This “water-based digital fabrication” is intended to create a situation in which form, function, and fabrication are more closely linked, working in a way that mimics how the natural world designs itself; the result is “a continuous construction modeled after human skin—with regions that serve as structure, window, and environmental filter,” said the lab. In a display at the MIT Media Lab, the pavilion was shown along with a library of materials with various colors, shades, and structural properties, and an array of custom hardware, software, and wetware. The pavilion has been acquired by SFMOMA for its permanent collection, and a second version, Aguahoja II, will appear in the Cooper Hewitt’s design triennial, themed “Nature,” which opens next month. When structures made of these materials have run their course, the materials can be dissolved in water, returning natural materials to the environment with relatively little harm or disruption, much like any organic object in a naturally occurring ecosystem that decays and returns to be reused by the life that relies on it. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
Posts tagged with "MIT Media Lab":
300 students and professionals will have just 24 hours to design, build, and present their creations at this year's 2016 Hacking Arts Festival. Running from November 19th to 20th and hosted at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the hackathon will feature teams from the fields of "design, fashion, film/video, gaming, music, performing arts, virtual/augmented reality, and visual arts." Last year's grand prize winner "created virtual realities of famous works of art including American Gothic and the Birth of Venus" that could be experienced with a VR headset. As with last year, the 2016 Hacking Arts Festival will feature a conference and tech expo, both on the 19th. Vitra—one of the event's top-tier sponsors, along with Adobe and Autodesk—has furnished the hackathon with its newly released "Hack" products. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, the Hack system features an unfinished aesthetic that matches its versatility: It's designed for easy disassembly, transport, and modification for different user configurations and office functions. Early bird tickets are sold-out, but other tickets are still available.
Hailing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, Ori is a range of adaptable homeware and furniture designed to maximize the potential of small spaces. With its name coming from the Japanese word "origami," the furniture system combines robotics, architecture, and design to let interiors double-up as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and offices. Teaming up with Swiss product designer Yves Béhar, founder and CEO of Ori and research scientist at MIT Hasier Larrea has his eyes set on fundamentally altering the "experience and economics of the urban built environment." Speaking in a press release, Larrea added that "Ori’s systems make possible the effortless and magical transformation of interior spaces, providing the totally new experience of having our interior space intelligently conform to our activities, rather than our activities being forced to conform to our interior space." The firm argues that contemporary urban dwellings have become overtly static and unresponsive, an inefficiency that is ill-affordable in today's housing climate. A movable mainframe, containing a variety of concealable furniture and storage, is the core concept in Ori's modular and mechatronic furniture. Using the wall mounted control panel, the module can move across the floor and deploy different pieces of furniture. This can all be done remotely through the Ori app as well (perfect for if you want your space to be ready for an impromptu party.) With words such as "mechatronic," "modular," and "efficiency" being banded around, it would be easy to assume that such a system has aesthetics as an afterthought. That, however, is where Yves Béhar comes in. While being part of the functional design process, Ori's quality of finish makes it an appealing addition to dwellings that are hard-pressed on floor space. In a design statement, Béhar says:
Cities such as London, Seattle, San Francisco and almost everywhere else are seeing an influx of young professionals, yet those urban centers are more expensive and more condensed. People are seeking smaller living spaces as an economic opportunity, and while it meshes well with notions of sustainability, the question Ori is tackling is: how do we accommodate a living room, bedroom, closet and office space in a small 200-300 square feet apartment? While these micro living spaces enable developers to provide more housing options and allow renters and buyers affordability and a smaller carbon footprint, they clearly lack the need for life's different accommodations that larger apartments provide. While some may view these small spaces as a necessity, a group of MIT engineers saw this as an opportunity – how do we maximize our use of these spaces, providing the experience of luxury living without the luxury of size? Better yet, what if your living space could physically transform to create any environment you need? We teamed up with Ori to design a system of robotic furniture: transformable units that can triple the usage of a given space.While not on the market just yet, inquiries can be made via Ori's website here.
Do you dream of a world in which your touch-screen could touch back? Where you can shape digital models with your hands, physically reach out to friends hundreds of miles away, and once again tangibly interact with the people and objects around you? The Tangible Media Group at MIT’s Media Lab has begun to probe this future of 3D interactive interfaces with their latest creation: inFORM. Functioning similarly to the metal pinscreen toy, inFORM combines a state-of-the-art table-mounted “screen” of 900 movable “pixels,” a hacked Microsoft Kinect, projector, and nearby computer to transmit palpable content back-and-forth between the digital and physical realms. Created by Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, Alex Olwai, Akimitsue Hogge and Hiroshi Ishii, the breakthrough project allows for real-time user interaction with material objects and physicalized digital data, offering a glimpse into the exciting world of user interfaces that lie beyond the depthless, black touch-screens and skeuomorphic displays of today. As this technology progresses beyond inFORM’s simple 30x30 display, one could imagine a wealth of emerging applications, from remote medical operations to malleable, tactile architectural renderings, that may effectively unhinge the divide between virtual and corporeal space.
A new pavilion created by the Mediated Matter research group at MIT’s Media Lab explores the intersection between material technology, computation, and biological and digital fabrication on an architectural scale. Inspired by the silkworm’s ability to create a 3D cocoon out of a single, 1 km thread, a team of researchers led by architect Neri Oxman created a fibrous, CNC-fabricated scaffold made from 26 polygonal panels and laid out in silk thread. They then let loose 6,500 silkworms onto the frame to fill in the gaps and reinforce the structure. The structure’s silk armature was created by an algorithm, based on site-specific solar trajectories and research on the worms’ behavior, which was then built upon by the worms’ on-site reaction to the structure’s geometries and environmental factors, including heat, light, and density. The worms were attracted to darker and denser areas, leaving a large aperture in the pavilion’s southeast side and producing some areas thicker than others. Mediated Matter’s research with the Silk Pavilion opens up new possibilities for the creation of functionally graded material objects (think the varied, porous interior of bone as opposed to the homogeneity of concrete), fibrous systems for the construction of habitable space, and bio-synthetic structures that are capable of interacting with heir environments. Like their (ideal) mechanical counterparts, these small, squishy 3D-printers can self-replicate. While the silkworms were removed from the pavilion before they could transform into moths, once they metamorphose, those 6,500 grubs could produce 1.5 million more, which in turn could construct 250 additional pavilions.
Digital Clay. Last week at the SIGGRAPH technology conference, a prototype input device called "Recompose" made its debut. TechNewsDaily says that this "marriage of a keyboard and a 3-D tiled surface could be the future of computer interfaces." Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Recompose will give users the ability to "sculpt" data. LED Lettuce. The Dutch have amped up hydroponic agriculture with the use of LEDs, notes Good magazine. Scientists in the Netherlands have found that using the red and blue versions of the lights maximizes the effects of sunlight and minimizes dehydration. A bonus result? Greenhouses with rave-like ambiance. Flat out Platonic. Core 77 alerted us to the thought-provoking carpet designs of Luís Porém, which are based on deconstructed Plato's beloved polyhedrons. Biker Rights. A group of NYC lawyers ride to the aid of cyclists disputing NYPD tickets for bell, helmet, and lane violations, reports The New York Times. The law firm of Rankin & Taylor is preparing a class action suit against the city on behalf of bikers.
No Joint Custody. Archinect reports that partners Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo of London-based Foreign Office Architects (FOA) have made their professional divorce official. According to a press statement, each partner will now head up his/her own office and all staff will be retained and assigned to one of the two. Urban Fuel. University of Quebec researchers have published a study showing that higher gas prices translate into--logically--less urban sprawl: "On average, a 1% increase in gas prices has caused: i) a .32% increase in the population living in the inner city and ii) a 1.28% decrease in low-density housing units." Read more at Infrastructurist. Lab Experiment. The New York Times profiles the new director of MIT's Media Lab, Joichi "Joi" Ito, a 44-year-old venture capitalist from Japan, who comes to the job with a wealth of experience but no academic credentials. But “He has credibility in an academic context,” Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law prof and Creative Commons founder, told the Times. “We’ve been collaborators, and I’ve stolen many ideas from him and turned them into my own.” Big Bird Brains? Are pigeons just playing dumb for crumbs and sympathy? As far as birds go, city-dwelling pigeons have proportionally bigger brains than their avian country cousins, writes Per Square Mile.