We need to have conceptual flexibility and creativity to see where the new materials can take us.
A row housing project designed by an international, MIT-led team is demonstrating novel concepts in energy and architecture at the Internationale Bauausstellung (International Building Exhibition, or IBA) in Hamburg, Germany. Two innovations in the “Soft House” create an active architecture responsive to environmental conditions and changing homeowner needs: A solid softwood structure sequesters carbon, and a movable textile infrastructure harvests solar energy and provides solid-state lighting. On the exterior, a responsive photovoltaic (PV) textile façade adjusts to follow the sun, creating a novel two-axis solar tracking system. Inside, movable light-emitting curtains create spatial divisions and personal micro-climates. In other work, the MIT team has designed a lightweight solar canopy that can be mounted on urban rooftops, bringing renewable energy to dense urban areas.