360° Analysis

The Alternative to Green Pimped Architecture


May 09, 2012 22:53 EDT
Kinetura designs adaptable lamps and building applications that react to the surrounding light.

Designing lamps is like conceiving architecture on a micro scale. A light source with its fixture, and the natural light surrounding a building are obviously related. The design and architecture of both buildings and lamp fixtures need to maximize the utility and aesthetics of light

Interactive transformable lighting

Since 2005 we have been trying to connect artificial light more intimately with its surrounding architecture without losing the light’s functionality. We made the first prototypes of flexible transformable lamps. Such lamps regulate the intensity of their light by gradually changing in shape to either enlarge or diminish the light aperture. No bi-metals could be involved in the shape changing process since the evolution towards LED light is contradictory to the bi-metals’ consumption of energy (heat) from the bulb to obtain transformation of the lamp fixture. The basic principles we developed for the controlled light- and transformation-system were condensed in a first patent and were the starting point for our Kinetura design studio.

We discovered the power of merging light-modulation and shape-transformation by using the flexibility of certain parts of the lamp housing. In a sensual way the modulated light reinforces the physical transformation of the lamp and vice versa. This synergetic process not only enlivens lighting and its surrounding architecture, but the progressive multi-functionality also seems to have a higher mental impact on its users, probably because it is compatible with nature and human behaviour.

A room and its transformable lighting are able to interact in an almost organic way with the changing surrounding conditions and the various needs of its users. These factors, together with the properties of the shape changing system, determine the transformation process. We call this extra-dimensional functionalism: metamorphism. Within this process, flexible versus rigid materials and actuating devices play a key role. For example, the Santiago lamp slowly transforms from a closed and rectilinear light into an open, curved spotlight.

We have been showing our transformable lamps at exhibitions around the world since 2008. We seem to touch a new and universal aesthetic. From New York to Italy, Shanghai and Paris, spectators felt intuitively connected. They had spontaneous feelings of awakening, living, breathing.

Deeply rooted in our mental perception, light, warmth, and colour seem naturally related to curved and open forms. Darkness, the colour black, and cold seem related to straight and closed forms. However these seemingly opposite categories can become complementary and innate properties of one. We created a new kinetic aesthetic by combining these properties. It is not the form, nor the movement itself, but the ability to respond to the changing needs that induces a fascinating new world of kinetic forms. The beauty lies within the process itself.

Light is omnipresent, though often in an almost vulgar and aggressive way. Dynamic lighting is often degraded to billboard quality that tries to compete with the virtual world. It often creates a sterile lab-like environment and lacks mental impact on the spectator. Some of the leading lighting companiesseem blinded by their focus on the development of LED and OLED. They often degrade the casing around a light source to a purely technical or fashionable shape.

For a more holistic approach to dynamic lighting, cross-disciplinary cooperation is needed.  The important evolution of new energy-friendly light sources needs to be embedded in a kinetic aesthetic to reach its full potential.

Inspiring and energy efficient buildings

Sunlight and artificial light sources have to enhance the beauty of our surroundings. Natural light provides the energy to transform and to maintain our physical world. The Kinetower is the metamorphic pendant to our New York lamp. It is a building as one big energy regulator. The flexible outer skin of the kinetic architecture interacts in a circadian way with the environmental circumstances and with the people inside the building.

The release of this visual manifest on the ‘Abitare il Tempo’ exhibition in Italy in 2008 now seems less like a coincidence. In the last years, ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ have been central themes in debates on the future of architecture. Green pimped static architecture cannot be the goal, but it is too often still the result. We believe it will finally be the biologically inspired materials and systems that will determine the architecture and design of the future.

This focus has only recently been shared by many scientists, engineers, and designers around the world. The way the Wyss Institute is developing and implementing new knowledge is tremendously fascinating. The similarity that Donald E. Ingber recognized between tensegrity architecture and the way living organisms are structured at micro-scale is fundamental. The extremely light and flexible but perfectly balanced structure of tension and compression could be the ultimate organic building structure of the future. Last year, Gennaro Senatore and his colleagues wrote a remarkable paper that proved that adaptive structures could not only achieve superior structural efficiency, but also substantially reduce the energy needed to build and maintain a building in comparison with its passive counterparts.

Within this large field of research, Kinetura is developing the first pragmatic and adaptive lamps and building applications based on our concept of metamorphism. The research towards a new kinetic design and architecture of sustainability needs to be pushed by the user’s conviction and demand for adaptive products and architecture. We are proud to be part of this wonderful transition towards a new kinetic design and architecture: let us sustain the world by transformation.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


Only Fair Observer members can comment. Please login to comment.

Leave a comment

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member