Aurora is an interactive kinetic ceiling that responds to corporeal movement below it. The project is part of a research collaboration between MEML lab and SteelCase Inc. that explores the future of the built environment.

How could a building be dynamic and develop an understanding of its users through their movements and respond accordingly? In our contemporary world with advances in sensory environments, how might our sense of space be augmented by artificial intelligence? How can we use human bodily movement as a means of interacting with a human-made artificial environment?

Will architectural spaces be able to incorporate interactivity, unpredictability, and motion in order to serve as a kinetic interface, communicating stories of the activities of its inhabitants? And will the dynamic soft architecture of the future be able to convey information about the activities of users within the space, just as by looking at the surface of the ocean, one can read the wind direction?

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The project plays with the intimacy of our bodies and the environment.

Aurora attempts to address these questions through the design of an interactive ceiling installation. The main intention behind this work is to design a space that can detect users and reconfigure its shape according to their bodily movements. By tracking bodily movements of users with the Kinect motion capture camera and translating it to design of various motions, the project attempts to develop a deeper understanding of embodied interaction and to produce more intuitive interactive experiences.

It aims to rethink the conventional rigid, solid architectural space through its combination of shape changing form, responsive lighting, adaptable spaces and interactive responses. It is an attempt therefore to reimagine the possibilities of sensory spaces and robotic architecture.

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The design uses floating disks that light up based on activity below.

Taking its title from Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, who renews herself each morning, flying across the sky and announcing the arrival of the sun, the installation is about bringing things to life and illuminating the world. As such, the design includes a series of floating disks, which light up and come alive based on the activity of people underneath.

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The design uses floating disks that light up based on activity below.

Measuring 15' by 15' the project is installed on a pre-existing ceiling grid, and is composed of five active/dynamic and four passive/static modules covered by mesostructural industrial felt.

This experimental structure was developed through a process of research and development that investigated dynamic shape changing structures, robotics, material behaviors, membrane structures, paneling and cutting methods, and interactive system of controls. These explorations drew upon connections between design, technology, engineering, and fabrication.

This project includes five floating motion disks which not only move along the z-axis but also have the ability to rotate in various direction in a 3D vector space. The skin is made of industrial felt cut from a single 2D sheet in order to provide enough flexibility for transformations. The ‘cut’ of the industrial felt combined with the 'drape' of the material therefore offer the material different qualities depending on direction of the movement.

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  • Behnaz Farahi
  • Sam Carlo Adelan
  • Julian Ceipek
  • Nicholas Cambier
  • Annie Montgomery
  • Elias Talbot, Christopher Parsons
  • Pierre Forcioli-Conti
  • Sara Tagaloa
  • Selina Boon
  • Arked Production
    Special Thanks
  • MEML
  • USC
  • Scott Fisher
  • Jen Stein
  • Chanel Summers
  • Iain Nash
Performer walking under Aurora interactive ceiling