Associate Professor Geoffrey Thün and Assistant Professor Kathy Velikov awarded $186,000 to advance The Stratus Project

Taubman College Associate Professor Geoffrey Thün, Taubman College Assistant Professor Kathy Velikov, Ryerson University (Toronto) Graduate Program Director in Architecture and Associate Professor Colin Ripley, and Ryerson University (Toronto) School of Computer Science Professor Alex Fernworn were awarded a 2011 Research Creation Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada to advance The Stratus Project. The grant totals $186,000 and is intended to fund personnel, materials, equipment, and research costs for project development over a three year project cycle culminating in an international exhibition of the work that will be hosted for its initial installation at the Centre de Design at UQAM in Montreal Canada. Thün, Velikov & Ripley are partners in RVTR Inc., and undertake both professional and academic research pursuits across national and disciplinary formats of collaboration.

The Stratus Project is an ongoing body of research that develops kinetic, environment-responsive envelope systems. The first prototype utilizes smart surfaces, responsive technologies and fabrication methods as well as a distributed network of analog to digital processing and environmental inputs to modify localized ambient atmospheric conditions in real-time response to occupant presence and environmental sensing. The ambitions of the project are to engage the concept of adaptation beyond sense and response regimes to develop a stream of instrumental interiors, or ‘second skins’ that sense, adjust and mediate air conditions, including the development of intelligent sensing that would enable custom configuration of spatial volumes and user preferences over time.

The Stratus Project received initial seed funding for its initiation and development at the University of Michigan through both the Taubman College Research Through Making program, and the OVPR Small Project Support program. The project was exhibited for the first time at the Taubman College Architecture Gallery in January 2011. It has since been presented at the Adaptive Architecture Conference at the Building Centre in London UK March 3-5 2011, and was recently selected for publication in the forthcoming issue of Bracket by a blind jury including Benjamin Bratton, Philippe Rahm, Julia Czerniak, Charles Renfro, Jeffrey Inaba and Geoff Manaugh.

Thün and Velikov are appreciative of U-M’s commitment to the initiation of innovative projects through its small project funding programs which have been critical to the success of this project in the broader funding stream. Initiation of the work and the production of early demonstrable outputs facilitates committee review at subsequent agencies to understand project potentials clearly- beyond the descriptive format that typically attends proposals for new work, particularly in the area of emerging technologies for spatial and architectural applications. An interdisciplinary team of U-M Students and recent grads were involved in the development of the Stratus Project and the work will continue to involve researchers and students from multiple disciplines over the next three years.

To view a short film about the stratus project click here.