Our perception of space is closely linked to spatial factors, such as composition, orientation and complexity. Furthermore light, reflection, materiality and sound plays an important role for our haptic sense of space. Our three-dimensional impression is the result of the evaluation and interpretation of the mentioned properties. They are needed for the orientation in space.

Seen as a research study, “Lost in Space” tries to find new possibilities to create dynamic spaces, which are able to change their physical form and structure over time. How can we modulate the spatial situation and consequently affect the behavior and movement of the human-being inside. Which parameters of the environment are useful to stimulate the behavior of the constantly changing structure? What is the interaction of the human-being and the space around him?

Parametric and algorithmic methods have become very powerful tools in current architecture. By working exclusively in virtual space almost everything is possible and just limited by our creativity. But if it comes back to physical space we still have to deal with the limitations of current available materials. Therefore experimenting with the boundaries and possibilities of new materials will play a very important role during the research process. Furthermore we also want to start experimenting with “smart materials” and give an overlook of other projects dealing with similar topics.

First Experiments


Current Setup


For a first setup we built a spatial mounting grid where we attached 15 stepper motors. Each stepper motor module is based on the physical computing platform Arduino and can be controlled individually over its serial port. Therefore each module has its unique ID written in the EEPROM memory of the microcontroller and a custom firmware based on the StepperLab3 library to interpret the data received on the serial port.

download files Arduino

We built a custom software in Max/MSP to control all steppers motors over a simple interface. For first experiments we draw the motion curve of each motor in a graphical function editor. Therefore we are able to choreograph complex movements and save them as presets. Additionally we use the control data for each motor to modulate frequencies of a simple audio oscillator.

download files Max/MSP

Inside a mounting grid we were experimenting with different flexible materials (e.g. rubber strings, piece of latex etc.) attached on some anchor points which are connected to the shaft of a stepper motor by a thin rope. Therefore we are able to deform the shape over the time. We are still working on different structures and materials to find interesting solutions. Right now we recognize that our stepper modules are not strong enough to deform bigger structures and we are still looking for alternative possibilities.

In a next step we want to experiment with algorithmic and generative methods to achieve non-linear motion behavior. Also the question how parameters of the environment (e.g. motion people inside structure) are influencing the system will be part of the next studies.

Next Steps

– material research
– theoretical research
– technical research (using DC-gear motors or industrial brushless motors instead of stepper motors)

– bigger scale

– light and sound