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Marilena Skavara’s ‘Adaptive Facade’

Here is how the architect describes her project:

“‘Adaptive fa[CA]de’ is a manifestation of how naturally designed systems can potentially inspire a new type of adaptive, programmable architecture. It explores a wide spectrum of functional possibilities and performative characteristics of Cellular Automata (CA). CA are bottom-up algorithms and a great example of ‘hidden’, low-level intelligence found in several emergent and often complex, natural formations. ‘Adaptive fa[CA]de’ is an endeavour to formulate a surface based on simple CA rules that constantly alters its pattern by tilting each panel on the grid to seven possible angles.”

“The goal is to achieve adaptation to the ever-changing environment, aiming to provide optimum light conditions to the interior of the building. The innovation lays beneath both the elimination of the exhaustive calculations found in other sustainable façades and the combination of functionality and playful unpredictability. Random-like, intriguingly non-symmetric patterns are not only used for aesthetic purposes with lack of pragmatic value, but are the result of an intelligent, responsive system trained by artificial Neural Networks, which are further optimised by Genetic Algorithms.”

This system together with Ecotect and other energy modeling systems would beable to further increase the performative efficiency of building skins while still allowing the exploration and implementation of different facade materials and patterns.


  1. Some of the first images in the video reminded me of those fractal geometries that supposedly exist all over nature and are really cool, but then the actual project doesn’t seem to incorporate these at all. I can’t really think of any examples of fractal skins, and architecturally only Hindu temples come to mind. It seems like fractals could be applied in interesting situations where more surface area would benefit the building, say for example if the skin were some sort of solar panel the more area of sun exposure the better (like this image: http://algorithmic-architecture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/fractal4.jpg). That’s what I thought this was originally and I still think it could be an interesting idea.

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