Forces for Architecture
In September 2015, designer Jólan van der Wiel and Benthem Crouwel Architects started Forces for Architecture: a research lab that explores how natural phenomena can serve the built environment. Recently, prototypes of the lab were presented and a new website about the project was launched.
Typically, buildings are designed to protect us against the forces of nature, forming a shelter from wind, rain and heat. But do natural phenomena also offer opportunities for new, interactive forms of architecture? Various experiments have been conducted in the lab, resulting in conceptual models and materials that respond to natural forces. By creating different architectural structures and ‘skins’, the relationship between architecture and its surroundings were explored by visualizing the effects of wind, rain, sun and even earthquakes on a building’s exterior.
These multiple lines of research were then developed through a number of projects. Colour Changes imitates the changing colour of leafs through temperature sensitive pigments that can be used to cover buildings. Water Expanding experiments with water-sensitive materials to create an architectural skin that expands when it rains. Other projects mimic the behaviour of an incandescent charcoal by glowing in response to wind, or show the amount of rain a building deals with through windows covered with ‘veins’ filled with running water.