Research Through Making II


The Stratus Project develops a kinetic interior envelope, seemingly alive with sensors and intelligence, set into motion based on sensory input to affect the atmosphere that it surrounds, and in continual information exchange and dialogue with breather and environment. The fully realized system will develop a series of immersive layers, from a sensing, breathing and energy scavenging ground plane to a deep enveloping soffit, considering the material design of both that which is sensed – surfaces, atmospheres, thermal gradients and light – and that which lies beyond our sensory capabilities – aerosols, energies, transmission and radiation waves.

The first prototype is comprised of a thickly arrayed suspended textile consisting of a tensegrity-based structural weave, diffusing membranes and breathing cells. Physical presence of the breather, as well as environmental conditions such as temperature, light, carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants, are measured through a distributed network of sensors that communicate with actuators to trigger fans supplying or extracting air, and lights illuminating the occupied space.

Typology Responsive Envelope System
date 2010
location University of Michigan
scale 80 sf full-scale prototype
scope Design and prototyping of a kinetic, sensing, environment-responsive interior envelope system. Research includes lightweight deformable structures, distributed sensing and servo-mechanism driven actuation, micro-processing, cybernetic systems, machine learning and fabrication logics.


Leads Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün
Design research collaborators Zain AbuSeir, Mary O’Malley Matt Peddie, Colin Ripley
Fabrication + Animation F. Parke MacDowell
Programming + actuation James Christian, Christopher Parker, Jason Prasad
Protoyping Sara Dean, Jessica Mattson, Dan McTavish, Christopher Niswander, Lisa Sauvé, Adam Smith
Collaborators Dr. Aline Cotel [Fluid Dynamics and Particle Image Velocimetry], Dr. Jerome Lynch [Embedded Sensing and Wireless Integrated Microsystem Integration], Dr. Lars Junghans [HVAC Consultant], Dr. Robert Dick [Distributed Sensing and Computation]


  • ACSA 2012 Faculty Design Award