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Subnatural Morphogenesis

Emergent Properties, Tendencies and Capacities of Magnetic Substance


Immersive Kinematics Research Group (RA)
PennDesign Immersive Kinematics Seminar
Advisor: Simon Kim
Collaborator: Hyeji Yang
Spring 2013


The pedagogic objective of Subnatural Morphogenesis is to understand architecturethrough maneuvering a conventionally non-architectural medium of magnetic substance.We believe that an understanding of subnatural material is a crucial addition to contemporarydebates within architectural discourse. In the parameter of architecture-machinerelationship, we are moving away from architecture that looks like machines into the architecturethat behaves like machines. It is not a mere conceptual mesh-type form but has aa specific tectonic as to why it is kinetic and time-based.


All materials and structures are characterized by their emergent properties, tendencies and capacities. We are suggesting a prototype for the emerging architecture of mutation and seeking for a new construction technology with the malluable magnetic materials. We use the word ‘mutation’ instead of ‘responsiveness’ because this environment follows biomimetic terms of evolution - the opposite of exactness of assembly-line-type products.


The flexibility of the malluable substance, magnetic putty, have yielded a greatly differentiated spatial configuration depending on actual conditions from human occupancy, level of carbon dioxide, et al. At the same time the scale of the project would have to grow for better utilization with efficiency. The probles with realization would be its requirement for such strong magnetic field, which may interfere with human comfort. This problem will require a further investigation, and would introduce a new topological and tectonic language for architectural discourse.