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Adaptive Visitor Center

Initial Research Partner: Maria Valentine
Studio Professor: Mona Ghandi
Site: University District | Spokane, WA

The WSU Spokane campus is surrounded by the Spokane River but lacks a connection. The Centennial Trail runs alongside the Riverpoint campus, but is underutilized. Here, there is an opportunity to foster this connection through a welcoming gathering space that both the students and the public can engage with. This visitors center implored dynamism and interactivity. To achieve this, kinetic architecture and the Internet of Things were researched and applied through building development.

The dynamic principals of the space initially formulated from the centric spine of the building. This centric spine was derived through the desired connection of campus to the city–a direct line of site view towards the waterway. To enhance this effect, a unique viewpoint is established by lifting the room up and over the centennial trail. The interior space in the spine can expand and contract in width to suit the programmatic and moment requirements for a certain time of day. Additional kinetic and interactive spaces are contingent on this initial system and adapt through multiple data input.


Initial Expand / Contract Exploration
Initial exploration began with chevron-shaped cardstock acting on each other as a track-system. The middle piece acted as the base/track and the other two overlapped onto it. The external wings could be manipulated to slide along the track, causing the shape to expand and contract.


3D Iteration
​To create a more 3-dimensional system based on the same methodology, we began material exploration. We discovered a 1/2″ PEX pipe sliding into a 3/4″ PEX pipe – mimicking the same initial explorative transformation.


Flexible Surface Exploration
Aluminum sheathing was used at first – attached at the end points of the 1/2″ PEX “track” pipes – to create a flexible connection. Further development of the system brought rigid 90* and 45* elbows to be used as the connection.


An Expansive / Contractive System Component
​Trying to find a use for the aluminum sheathing, we created a dynamic surface condition that “closed the loop” for the system component. However, when the system was tested the material was too heavy and had to be replaced with a light-weight polypropylene plastic.


1. An Exploration of Air
Through the use of two mattress pumps and balloons: the contraction system is able to accomplish creating a suction to pull the PEX pipe (that is pointed down) inward, and the expansion system utilizes the mattress pump by blowing the air to the upward pipes allowing gravity to bring it back down. A thin plastic strip is connected at each endpoint, resulting in multiple dynamic surface conditions.

2. Impact and Future Development
This system could mean several things for a building: at a smaller scale, it can act as a kinetic facade system (optimizing for shading and cooling), or at a larger scale, it can act as the literal space – creating a dynamic interior (ensuing multiple experiences and programmatic uses). ​

The building form began as a simple square, with a direct line of site to the river from the campus. This centric spine is to attract and connect the user to the river by lifting them up above the centennial trail, giving an unobscured new view to the river. The roof condition of this spine is trisected to create opportunities for dynamic air ventilation, daylighting, and dynamic mood/experience conditions. Several configuration to the roofs slope and height would be adjusted by data through the planning of an event.

The user would register an event through an app, and people would mark if they were attending, through social media. The amount of exposure would be tracked and analyzed. The spine would react to the data and time of events, reconfiguring the event space to suit the needs of the occupants. The spines walls could be pulled closer, stretched further out, or staggered to create additional walls for the work to be displayed in the exhibition space uniquely.

Dynamism + Interactive Integration
​For example, an event organizer would set up an itinerary for a guest lecture in the auditorium, then an exhibition in the centric spine, and finally a dinner in the restaurant. When the data of the attendees and times are inputted, the rooms would dynamically expand or contract to create spaces suitable for the party.


East West Section


North South Section

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