CELIA is an interactive loft from AI planetworks in Shenzhen

AI planetworks’ kinetic ceiling responds to external stimuli

CELIA by AI planetworks is an illuminated, kinetic ceiling at the base of the newly built ping an asset tower in Shenzhen, China. Abbreviation for ‘computer-enhanced, luminous interactive architecture’, CELIA processes sensor data to generate its intricate motion and light patterns in response to human movement and the building’s internal systems.

moreover, the name CELIA is a nod to TERA and MARSHA, the earth’s and space’s habitats designed by AI planetworks’ sister company, AI spacefactory. ‘CELIA derives from the Latin meaning ‘heavenly’: a digital world, reflected in our own, ‘ informs the team behind the project.

AI planetworks
all images © AI planetworks

inspired by bioluminescence in nature, the designers at AI, planetworks sought to embed CELIA with a primitive brain that could sense and respond to external stimuli – one of the indicators of life. the team felt that not only could they animate a building by providing it with a central nervous system, they could make it look as if the building was communicating.

‘Buildings have skin, skeletal structure, even respiratory and circulatory systems – but in the absence of a central nervous system, buildings are lifeless. by adding the ability to sense and respond, we can bring buildings and cities to life, ‘ shares AI planetworks.

AI planetworks
by lifting the tower, a ‘fifth facade’ is revealed – enhanced by animating the visible ceiling

reveals an exposed, fifth facade that connects to the cityscape

ping an asset tower provided an opportunity to test the team’s hypothesis about a building by their design. as architects of the new tower to ping a group, AI planetworks faced a challenge: to increase the density of the site as it opened up and connected to one of the world’s busiest city centers. their solution was to soar the mass of the 208-meter-high, thirty-seven-story tower and create an elevated public square beneath it that would eventually connect to Shenzhen’s pedestrian bridge network.

the proposal resulted in an exposed, outdoor ceiling at the bottom of the raised tower – a ‘fifth facade’ absent in almost all other buildings. the proximity of the attic to the elevated space initiated a dialogue between the building and pedestrians – which the team believed could be enhanced by animating the exposed surface.

installation of 108 movable petals and 2,484 LED lights

based on the architectural proposal, the designers started making prototypes for CELIA with simple breadboards, tiny motors and handmade wooden models synchronized with motion software. they tested these movements via computer animations to visualize the final result. In secret, the team worked with manufacturers to produce more iterations over the next two years – an effort backed by the building’s developer who pings a real estate.

the final configuration uses 108 movable ‘petals’ and 2,484 LED light fixtures, each of which can be addressed individually. The motion control system uses several predetermined paths triggered by real-time feedback from indoor and outdoor environmental sensors. Currently, two operating modes are planned: a human-activated mode, in which infrared sensors detect movement during and trigger an illuminated response, and a signal from the building’smechanical systems to open the petals and draw fresh air through the underside of the tower.

AI planetworks
108 movable ‘petals’ that respond to human movement and feedback from the tower’s mechanical systems

celia a city-scale interactive loft comes to life in Shenzhen, China 2
detailed view of the moving petals

AI planetworks forms interactive ceiling in Shenzhen as a primitive, luminescent brain
CELIA’s lighting effects are generated using 2,484 low energy LED lights

celia a city-scale interactive loft comes to life in Shenzhen, China 3
the illuminated ceiling is inspired by bioluminescence in nature

designboom has received this project from our DIY posts feature where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project posts from our readers here.

edited by: lea zeitoun | design boom

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