Skip to main content

Exploring the Potential of Kinetic Buildings

When it comes to designing and planning a building for construction, there are many moving parts. This is quite literally the case with kinetic buildings. This trending type of architecture seeks to incorporate large-scale moving parts throughout a structure in order to enhance its adaptive capability. 

Kinetic architecture is a growing trend for its structural versatility and functional adaptability. This is the future of dynamic architecture, and something to consider implementing for your next project. 

What is kinetic architecture? 

The moving elements of kinetic architecture go beyond the simple opening and closing of a window – think responsive systems that are produced mechanically or by the interaction of people, air, water, and other kinetic forces. Kinetic elements can be incorporated in various ways depending on the needs of the people inside the building and the outside environment. Automated shading, moving walls, rotating components or even spinning foundations are just a few examples of kinetics used in architecture. 

One of the most notable instances of kinetics within modern architecture is the Wimbledon Center Court. The retractable roof is used depending on weather conditions. Not only does the roof provide shelter on rainy days, but it’s also designed with transparent materials that allow natural light to flow through the entire court. This demonstrates a fundamental concept of kinetic architecture: optimizing usability by adapting to both users’ needs and a structure’s environment.


What is the future of kinetic architecture? 

We know that kinetic architecture benefits the people inside the building. But we also know that sustainability lies at the heart of using kinetic elements in our everyday structures. Adaptive buildings can automatically adjust energy consumption based on internal and external factors — this is where the future of kinetics in architecture is headed. 

In 2018, commercial and residential structures accounted for 40 percent (40 quadrillion BTUs) of America’s total energy consumption. With climate change a growing concern, many experts believe kinetic architecture could be instrumental in reducing the carbon footprint of structures.

Responsive kinetics that react to the change in light, temperature, and wind are the types of kinetics that can help reduce a building’s energy consumption, thus allowing buildings to reach new levels of sustainability. Thanks to new technology and emerging materials, it’s easier (and less expensive) for architects to implement kinetics in designs. 


How to implement kinetic elements in your next project 

Kinect architecture has the potential to change how we experience the places in which we live, work, and spend our free time. But while new advancements in the industry are exciting, they pose a new crop of challenges. Perhaps the most significant hurdle is how to implement moving parts into the lifecycle of your next construction project.  

Special considerations come into play when planning, designing, and installing kinetic elements, and a successful build of this nature requires unprecedented collaboration among project phases.

The integration of dynamic, adaptable building features requires a workflow that is equally dynamic and adaptable. The Constructible Process — a vision for how structures are designed and built — is helping to make the construction workflow more collaborative, efficient, and affordable. 

The Constructible Process relies on three principles — design models should be connected, content-enabled, and constructible: 

  • Connected: Align stakeholders by enhancing the information contained within 3D models. Today, BIM is worth more than mere design — add basic measurements, component specifications, installation instructions, and more to make models more actionable. The Constructible Process facilitates connectivity by establishing a crucial common-ground on which all stakeholders can collaborate more effectively.  

  • Content-enabled: Embed mission-critical project information within the models themselves. This way 3D models become understandable and applicable to a greater diversity of workers. For example, when you partner with a manager content provider, all models automatically contain consistent, accurate, and understandable project details. Content-enabled models help democratize project information for all stakeholders. 

  • Constructible: Ultimately, 3D models need to inform real-world buildability. When models are only understandable and applicable to designers, their utility quickly drops off as a project progresses through construction. Constructible models — models that are accessible and useful to the crews working in the field — can be used to make sense of all aspects of a plan in relation to how it will be built. 

A Constructible Process will need to be adopted to support the future of kinetic structures. This highly-collaborative workflow empowers all stakeholders to make data-driven decisions and adapt to on-the-fly adjustments. For more information on how the Constructible Process is setting a new standard for jobsite efficiency, check out the ebook “How The Constructible Process Will Transform the Construction Industry by 2020.”