Adaptive Architecture: 12 Transforming & Convertible Buildings

Flapping Wings of the Zoomlion Headquarters Building

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Two massive panels on the facade of this ‘transformer building’ in China flap like the wings of a bird to change the look and function of the exterior, opening the interior spaces to the outdoors. The hinged steel and glass panels are mounted to hydraulic arms. Another transforming section of the building folds in a way that’s inspired by the legs of a swimming frog. “These animal forms reflect the company’s understanding of the delicate balance between nature and artificial intention, and their embrace for environmentally sound human development,” says architecture firm amphibianArc of the Chinese machinery company Zoomlion for whom the structure was designed.

M-Velope Transformer House

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Small spaces can transform, too, including 230-square-foot tiny houses like the M-velope by Machael Jantzen. This flexible home features slatted wood panels on the exterior that are hinged so they can be opened to various degrees, dramatically expanding the space and opening it to the outdoors in various ways depending on the season.

Dynamic Facade Reveals Wind Patterns

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Artist Charles Sowers created a dynamic effect on the facade of San Francisco’s Randall Museum with 612 aluminum weather vanes that reveal unexpected wind patterns on the building’s surface. Rather than facing the same direction, as you might expect, the vanes swirl independently, sometimes in wave-like ripples and sometimes all on their own.