The genesis of this project is rooted in an exploration of the possibilities for Computational Fluid Dynamics within an architectural paradigm. Essentially, this project questions our current perception of water/other Fluid substances and whether there is room for their application to an architectural problem. Fluids have many properties which make them a very interesting material to work with, properties such as its ability to retain volume, or the way it conforms to fit a vessel of any shape, so this became my primordial concern – how can the adaptive nature of a fluid manifest itself and transcend the way we presently think about buildings. form, and space?
So when the adaptive nature becomes our primary concern, a lot of other spin offs become possibilities. If a building could be made of liquid, this really begins to interrogate several things fundamental to our established ideas of architecture. Form is no longer permanent, in fact form is no longer an adequate way to describe the resulting state of matter. We are no longer bound to site, an adaptive building needs no fixed location – a fluid building could just as easily exist on land as it would in the water. The programme of the building as well is almost unnecessary, as any requirements for the building can be made on the fly.
So what this project is really creating is a system. A system of architecture which operates completely unlike anything we have ever seen before. So how does this system work? How do we garner any control over Fluids? In order to achieve this, we need to use a specific kind of Fluid, one which can be moulded indirectly, one which can respond to field conditions, the solution lies in a specific category known as Smart Fluids. Smart Fluids rely on a change in field strength (be it electric or magnetic) in order to create a form of sorts. A special kind of Fluid called Ferrofluid is a magnetically charged Fluid which can be shaped by a given magnetic field, so now the problem becomes how do we shape the magnetic field so as to control this system.
The Mag Suit V3 is a feat of engineering. Powered by a wireless energy adapter on the back of the suit, the suit is a magnetic field generator. Essentially, when a human is wearing this suit, they become an integral part of the magnetic field, due to the electromagnetic device which they are now wearing. In order to interact with the building, one must wear this suit. The suit generatres enough magnetic field strength in order to create a magnetic network strong enough to shape the smart Fluid which the building is comprised of. The suit has four main magnetised areas, two at the base of the feet, and two at the hands. The wearer of the suit is hence able to block out the shape of the building for a temporary amount of time as well as add finer detail articulation to the surface using hand gestures. Sensors on the chest region of the device also give information about the building; number of occupants, proximity to other individuals, and suit information such as the current emitting strength of the magnetic field or any warnings they need beware of. The Mag Suit V3 also comes with three fail-safes – two batteries to store energy from the wireless receiver, and an emergency battery as well.
And herein lies the bulk of the proposition. My project suggests that people will be fitted with a suit, which, when activated, essentially turns their person into a node of a greater magnetic field.
As an individual tracks along, the Fluid will respond accordingly, creating a space or volume around them. However this becomes a lot more interesting when the magnetic fields of different individuals interact with each other, creating an interference pattern of sorts in a three dimensional space.
The different magnetic polarities and their relative proximities serve to define an entirely different experiential quality to the space. Furthermore, each individual will have control over the strength of their own magnetic field and poles via the wearable device attached to their palm.
Now of course, the magnetic field which has been created does exist indefinitely, in fact the magnetic field will hold for only brief amounts of time, relying on residual magnetism in the field to allow the particles to hold until they are disturbed again or until the residual magnetism wears off. What this also entails is that when no one is occupying the building, the matter which creates it will slowly but surely reside into its ‘rest state’ until it is further re-agitated.
Computational Fluid Dynamics allow us to digitally simulate and solve complex interactions between tens or even hundreds of millions of particles in order to predict their behaviour from moment to moment so that we can understand how they will react to a certain circumstance or how we should adapt our environment based on those results. This incredibly powerful system is still largely unexplored in the realm of archictectural significance, so what benefits could this system bring to architecture and how does it react to contemporary architectural practice? What if we could literally make a building out of water or a Fluid? Fluids have many properties which make them a rather unique genesis. It is possible to quantify the veloctiy, vorticity, viscoscity, surface tension, compressibility (or lack thereof), stability, elasticity, etc. of a fluid. But the most obvious properties of a Fluid are its ability to retain volume, and its ability to conform to the shape of any vessel, and hence its true adaptability. If we could harness control over the way Fluids behaved, then immediately the formal possibilites become limitless, but moreover, our definition of space and borders becomes nothing more than mere guidelines of a past reality. If we could control the Fluids, architecture would no longer be bound to shape, site, scale or programme. And herein lies the ultimate question – How do we gain control over a Fluid? Because that is what we strive for as part of the human condition, control over every domain of our lives. So why should architecture define me? Why can I not define the architecture?
Some 3D Prints of the final model as well: