Rossi . Augustynowicz . Georgakopoulou . Sixt


more: ShapeShift . design team: Dino Rossi . Edyta Augustynowicz . Sofia Georgakopoulou . Stefanie Sixt . Manuel Kretzer (project supervisor)

ShapeShift is an experiment in future possibilities of architectural materialization. This project explores the potential application of electro-active polymer (EAP) at an architectural scale. EAP offers a new relationship to space built through its unique combination of qualities. It is an ultra-lightweight, flexible material with the ability to change shape without the need for mechanical actuators. As a collaboration between the chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design (ETHZ) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), shape-shift bridges gaps between advanced techniques in architectural design / fabrication and material science as well as pushing academic research towards real world applications.

EAP is a polymer actuator that converts electrical power into mechanical force. In principle it consists of a thin layer of very elastic acrylic tape sandwiched between two electrodes. Once the voltage in the range of several kilovolts is applied between the electrodes, the polymer rubber changes its shape in two ways.

First, due to the attraction of the opposing charges, the film is squeezed in the thickness direction (up to 380%), secondly, the repelling forces between equal charges on both electrodes result in a linear expansion of the film.

As a result, after actuation, the film becomes thinner and its surface biggerarea increases.
If the supportive frame is flexible, due to the initial pre-stretching of the acrylic film, the frame bends. After application of voltage, the material expands, and the component flattens out.

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