Interactive Environments focuses on researching and exploring the motion produced by natural forces such as water, wind or gravity, and playing with them to create digital and physical installations, with the help of physical computing and programming, where these forces become the lead actors for interaction within the framework of architecture.


Credits: Third-Eye, Interactive Environments Seminar, MAA01 2021/22


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Nature is the biggest network of information, where all actors are exchanging small pieces of data constantly. Never stops. Gaining a deeper understanding on how natural systems work can provoke an innovative line of thinking and designing. It becomes particularly interesting how natural processes are inspiring to technology within a physical computing framework.
How would we design systems that are purely integrated with nature? Natural phenomena such as light, wind and water can be used as direct design drivers. The building envelope is an interesting element to investigate as it is in direct contact to the surrounding area and is exposed, at times, to severe environmental conditions. How can we take advantage of the architectural living spaces to harvest energy and utilise its location within the building system. As designers and architects, we spend our lives examining and creating our built environment and as people we interact with it on daily bases. The possibilities to reimagine and recreate architecture as a dynamic and functional element are endless and many researchers have made attempts to contribute to the design field with projects on the topic. The Interactive Environments Seminar focuses on researching how the data travels in nature and exploring the motion produced by natural elements and through designing with them to create interactive living architecture where nature is the lead actor.


Credits: Adaptive facade systems, Interactive Environments Seminar, MAA01 2020/21

Learning Objectives

At course completion the student will:

  • will broaden and deepen the concepts of programming and physical computing;
  • be able to sense nature and act back through actuators;
  • to develop architectural elements that interact with nature.


Projects from this course

Project: Diffuse

Concept The idea of the project revolves around the concept of light diffusion within Architecture, in which color plays an important role to create a soft and uniform lighting for the interior. On the other hand, the aim is to diffuse direct sunlight while allowing daylight to create a comfortable environment for the user in … Read more

Reviving the Derelict

Concept The project aims to translate movement/motion of people from the streets into kinetic/ light and sound installation on the building’s facade using metal pipes/ wind chimes. The main input into the project would be from ultrasonic sensors placed on the exterior wall in between the building’s boundary and the public. The input from these … Read more

SlideSquare: The Sliding Square Facade

The architectonic project of an interactive environment that develops a structure opening and closing according to sunlight is a design that responds to the natural light changes throughout the day. The concept can be applied in a façade to regulate the temperature and sun entrance on the building, or in a residential or commercial project … Read more


Reference Project name: Dynamic facade- (Kiefer technic showroom)Architect: Ernst Giselbrecht + Partner ZT GmbHProject team: DI Peter Fürnschuss Project description:Office building and showroom for representative functions and product presentation for a metal company. Structural work: brick walls; reinforced concrete floors; steel columns filled with concrete along the facade. Facades: aluminium-glass facade with vorgelagerten Putzstegen respectively … Read more

Interactive Environments – Hygroscopic Façade

Ideation State of the Art RainBellows is a project that is inspired by nature’s solution for stormwater capture, storage and filtration to the urban environment. It is a highly-sustainable commercial building currently under development in Seattle. Designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the project revealed opportunities to further reduce use of potable water in … Read more

Motion Rhythm

Concept Motion Rhythm is an immersive installation that creates kinetic and sound patterns through the movement of people. It intends to capture the motion of walking and represent it at eye level, creating a connection between the body and its surrounding environment. It consists of a kinetic ceiling made of transparent bars with metal balls … Read more


Adaptive shading system Concept The project aims to create a shading installation that reacts to the pressure under it. The movement in the shade occurs when a person or a vehicle is under a module of the shade, triggering the opening of only that module. Location For the site for the installation we chose the … Read more