EAP is a polymer actuator that converts electrical power into kinetic force. Due to its extreme flexibility, lightness, transparency, thin dimensions and its ability to smoothly change shape it is a highly attractive component for architectural solutions.
‘ShapeShift’ is an experiment in future possibilities of architectural materialization and ‘organic’ kinetics. The project explores the potential application of electro-active polymer (EAP) at an architectural scale. EAP offers a new relationship to space facilitated through its unique combination of qualities. It is an ultra-lightweight, flexible material with the ability to change shape without the need for mechanical actuators.
The component based form results from the material’s desire to return into its original shape combined with specially designed structural frames developed to allow an appropriate degree of flexibility.
Through direct component-to-component linkages an added layer of complexity is achieved. Each entity has an influence on the form and movement of its neighbors, and therefore, on the structure as a whole.
EAP working principle: After application of high voltage the elastomeric film is compressed and expands in area.
Different layers of membrane components (from top to bottom: silicon insulation, conductive powder, pre-stretched polymer film, conductive powder, silicon layer, acrylic frame, 5 kV power connection)
Early investigations focused on static supporting structures, but after a number of experiments, the interest moved towards developing dynamic structural configurations. In these dynamic systems no static backbones are necessary, rather, individual components are connected to each other to produce self-supporting forms.