Although gooey archtitecture is technologically
sophisticated and of interest from the perspective of pure research, it's innovative
quality is geared to be a synthesis of existing and divergent technologies. There
is a very strong aspect of bricolage, or piecing together of parts from unexpected
areas of our daily life. There are machined gears, moving parts and motors pilfered
from automobile window mechanisms. The sonars used for sampling data have been
modified from Polaroid range finders. Gooey architecture is about improvisation
on many levels.
The walls of the installation consist primarily of 5 mm. extruded honeycombed
polyethylene panels. This material is commonly used in the construction industry
for prefabricated building panels since it is lightweight, rigid when bonded with
finish panels, and a good insulator. It is also commonly used by the marine industry
to construct boat hulls since it can be easily molded into curves and seamlessly
shaped. Both of these applications apply rigid material to the outside faces of
the sheets which come manufactured with a fibrous roving. In creating "GOOEY Architecture"
however, we maintain the truly unique quality of the material by covering the
panels with a weather protective, yet flexible silicone membrane. This allows
the panels to retain their flexibility. These sheets have structural integrity,
yet remain fully flexible in three dimensions. Such a composite panel allows us
to fabricate walls which are malleable, yet have a high impact strength and good
acoustic properties. The polyethylene sheets are fully bendable, do not crease
and maintain their shape. Once we appropriated this wall material it became possible
to conceive a truly fluid concrete architectural space.
The structure for the panels are essentially simple trusses. In the prototype,
we use flexible fiberglass rods as compression struts and nylon chord as tensile
members. Yet, the system serves not only as structural members, but by attaching
motors to the tensile members, the camber of the fiberglass rods can be manipulated
and controlled. Thus, in addition to their structural usage, the trusses perform
the task of actually controlling the deformation of the walls.
We have employed very the traditional architectural elements of a wall and truss
system. Yet, by using a fully flexible membrane material and a truss system which
functions as a motion actuator, we are able to push standard construction into
the realm of a truly revolutionary architecture.
The movements of the enclosure are controlled by a simple Pentium computer that
process the data collected by sonars. Custom software allows us to program dynamic
response patterns and relay data to microprocessors which actuate individual motors
in the network. The programming used to control the systems is based upon "fuzzy
logic" which allows for a fluid set of command structures. Sometimes known as
"soft computing," this paradigm is tolerant of uncertainty and partial truth.
The guiding principle of soft computing is to exploit this tolerance for imprecision
in order to achieve a complex and fluid environment. As we progress, more complicated
"personality" of the room will be achieved.
In addition, one of the primary goals for future incarnations of our installation
depends upon hooking up the sensory apparatus to the web. In such a scenario,
a three dimensional model of the space, corresponding precisely to the "actual"
space of the installation, will allow users on the web to move virtually through
the space through VRML and be able to interact with users who are physically inhabiting
the space. Such a condition will be a fundamental advancement in narrowing the
distinctions between these boundaries.
The installation will occupy approximately 3 meter by 4 meter space and be approximately
3 meters high.