photo-by-scott-mayoral © 2007 chouAdmin. All rights reserved.

House Swarming

Art Center College of Design Wind Tunnel Pasadena CA 2008

A site-specific installation which operates both as a complex light pattern that greets visitors and as an environment-sensing device.  Commissioned for the Art Center presentation of the exhibition “Open House,” designed  and produced by Ubersee.

During the day, the “swarm” of green ambiguous forms, both biomorphic and geometric, accentuates the South Campus’s main entry. At twilight, the swarm comes to life, telling visitors and passersby about the current air quality around the building. Electronic sensors perceive air contaminants – such as tobacco, benzene, carbon monoxide, even perfume – and separately inform the outside and inside swarms, which sets off signals. These signals are interpreted as changes to the natural rhythm that the network has established based on the number and distribution of nodes connected to the cable net. Flashing cells on the exterior facade indicate air quality inside the building. Conversely, pulsating effects in the interior entry inform visitors about the outside air quality. The flashing lights become indicators of the environment like dramatic clouds at sunset that forewarnings of storms at night.

HouseSwarming is an example of how architects and designers are using technology that mimics biological systems. These patterns look like those structures found in nature, such as the patterns made by schools of fish, flocks of birds, and swarms of locusts. Used in the home, this type of sensor-node technology could enable us to extend our nervous system into the environment and alter our sense of boundaries.

Art Center College of Design, South Campus, Pasadena, California, 2007

Conceptual Design and electronics Oliver Hess

Concept Development Jenna Didier

Fabrication Supervision Marcos Lutyens

Special thanks to the volunteer crew.