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Autonomous Systems and Robotics research centre

Adaptive buildings

Adaptive lifelike architecture

  • What if the building you were in appeared to be alive or even intelligent?
  • What if its walls moved as if organic skin on an animal?
  • What if it tried to advise you?

A set of four experiments have been carried out to begin to answer these questions. The results show that such places are likely to be found both a comfortable and useful place to be and work.

The use of interactive elements in buildings is on the rise in design circles and these buildings are proving to be popular in both private and public projects. This research attempted to study the effects of interactive or seemingly intelligent architecture might have on its inhabitants in terms of experience and productivity, through the use of virtual environments. To do that a series of research questions attempted to identify:

  • What is meant by interactive or intelligent architecture?
  • Are virtual environments a suitable test medium?
  • What effects do virtual environments have on users?

This research concluded that interactive or seemingly intelligent architecture is architecture that can react to its users and change its properties (colour, shape, sound …) in real time and that virtual environments are a suitable test medium as people tend to behave in them as they would in real life, whether they are lab or online based. The experiments performed in this research all confirmed the hypothesis that a seemingly interactive or intelligent architecture had a positive effect on users performance. Above 90% of test subjects performed better when the walls around them moved. The experiments also showed that such types of architecture are more appealing for people to stay, work and socialize in.

All this suggests that the presence of interactive or intelligent elements within a building is likely to have positive effects on its users. Increasing the productivity, comfort and sociability of its inhabitants (this sentence seems incomplete). The transferability of these results to the real world is yet to be tested. The experiments made here coupled with the increasing popularity of such types of buildings in real life suggests that such tests are a very viable option for future experimentation.


  • Adi, M N & Roberts, D J 2011, The Use of Online Virtual Environments to Assess the Appeal of Interactive Elements within Buildings, in: 'Proceedings of Cyber Worlds CW2011', IEEE, Banff, Canada.
  • Adi, M N & Roberts, D J 2011, Building Interactivity, is It Appealing?, in: 'IEEE Int Symp VR Innovation VRSI', IEEE, Singapore, Singapore, pp.337-338.
  • Adi, M N & Roberts, D J 2011, Using VR to Assess the Impact of Seemingly Life Like and Intelligent Architecture on People's Ability to Follow Instructions from a Teacher, in: 'IEEE Int Symp VR Innovation VRSI', IEEE, Singapore, Singapore, pp.25-31.
  • Adi, M N & Roberts, D J 2010, Can you help me concentrate room?, in: 'IEEE Virtual Reality', IEEE, Waltham, USA, pp.133-144