The Ephemeral Dream Space | The Penn State Stuckeman School Skip to main content

The Ephemeral Dream Space

Dissertation / Thesis: Aug 2016 to Jul 2017

(Re)Activating an Evocative Architecture through Computational Devices and Bodily Interaction
Project description: 

The Ephemeral DreamSpace is a master’s thesis project by Nasim Motalebi and a collaboration between SCDC and the MM Group. The Ephemeral DreamSpace is a proposed architectural space presented in the form of a physical prototype that simulates the wildly transformative capabilities of a “Virtopia.”

Virtopia is the virtual utopia where digital code gives birth to buildings and cities in the shape of anything imagined by architects or spaces that defy the rules of the physical world. It is the aim of this research to explore digital augmentation of the physical in order to promote spaces that are transformable, connected, and responsive to the bodily movements and desires of their inhabitants.

Today, technologies such as programmable actuators, open source software, sensors, and so on, counteract the physical limitations of transformable architecture and provide the freedom for architects to bring physical manifestation to a Virtopia.

With a focus on horizontal space definers and bodily interaction on the ground plane, an interactive, shape-shifting, and evocative floor was designed and built. The floor, aimed to promote the culture of floor living as a social instigator and symbol of communal life, is designed to respond to the movements of those sitting on it. Using visual sensory systems and programmable actuators, the floor is an ephemeral landscape that physically transforms its shape and creates different experiences for the users (specifically for two users in this prototype).

This research aimed to create a design example of an architectural space that could react to the embodied interactions of its users. The thesis is structured to demonstrate the study on material processes, sensory inputs, programmable outputs, and actuators. Towards the end, the final decisions and construction process are explained.


Candidate: Nasim Motalebi
Adviser: Marcus Shaffer
Committee: José Duarte, Andrew Hieronymi