Transformable Meeting Spaces

Self-Assembly Lab, MIT + Google + Michelle Kaufmann

Self-Assembly Lab Project Team: Hannah Lienard, Luc Lampietti, Kate Weishaar, Brian Huang, Lina Kara'in, Dimitrios Mairopoulos, Athina Papadopoulou, Bjorn Sparrman, Schendy Kernizan, Jared Laucks, Skylar Tibbits

The transformable woven research was done in collaboration with TAIT Towers + Atelier One

Transformable structures often require expensive and complex electromechanical systems to create movement. This research explores an alternative approach utilizing transformable woven structures that can smoothly transform with lightweight and soft and materials/mechanisms. A series of prototypes were built at 10cm, 1.5m, 3m, 6m and 20m demonstrating articulating woven structures for various applications.

Transformable Meeting Spaces are aimed at reimagining interior office or building environments. There are two predominant approaches to office design - open spaces versus fixed offices. Both design strategies have significant challenges. Open office plans have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges yet they provide flexibility and collaborative opportunities. Fixed offices offer privacy and quiet environments but restrict the type of working spaces available and occupy more square footage. This research proposes an alternative whereby structures can easily transform between private phone booths, lounge spaces or other quiet meeting spaces into open flexible areas. By utilizing woven and transformable materials these meeting spaces can expand and contract to create a meeting room for 6-8 people or morph into the ceiling leaving a clear and open area below.

After Skylar Tibbits met architect Michelle Kaufmann at a TED conference over a year ago, the start of a research collaboration with Google to explore the future of workplace environments was born. Over the subsequent months, Kaufmann, an architect working with Google, and MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab turned initial sketches into concepts that became these prototypes of Transformable Meeting Spaces.