Get 'touchy feely' with smart environments at new exhibition

03 May 2018 12:04:23.697

Connect yourself to a space that moves to mimic your breathing, touch and feel smart textiles that can communicate feelings and play around with a table runner that changes shape– these are just some of the interactive exhibits on display at Lakeside Arts from 12th May.

The exhibition, ‘Living with Adaptive Architecture’ will showcase projects that explore the interactions between everyday spaces and technology and show how these can change the way we live. It brings together projects and artistic explorations from across the Midlands and the UK.

‘Living with Adaptive Architecture’ has been put together by Dr Holger Schnadelbach from the University of Nottingham’s School of Computer Science alongside Peter Baldwin and Dr Nils Jäger from the Schools of Architecture from the Universities of Lincoln and Loughborough.

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Relationship with technology

Holger’s project ‘Breathing Space’ will be amongst those on display. This adaptive environment allows two people to share biofeedback of their breathing. People wear two wirelessly connected respiration belts and when they breathe the tent like structure will move up and down to mimic their breathing.

Holger says: “Through full-scale interactive prototypes, videos and architectural models, visitors will be able to explore the links between different strands of cutting-edge research and explore their relationship with technology and how they interact with it.

“People occupy buildings during a large proportion of their lives and more and more people live in cities. Urban environments and individual buildings are increasingly augmented with technology that captures and uses our personal data. This stretches from automatic number plate recognition on motorways to ID cards providing access to building facilities. On the research side, we have been experimenting with architecture prototypes that use physiological data (respiration, heartbeat, body movement, etc) to adapt the immediate environment around people. This work has demonstrated the feedback loops that emerge, where people change their behaviours in response to adaptive environments and this exhibition is giving people the opportunity to explore this for themselves.”

Zones to visit

Visitors can experience the exhibits in three overlapping zones:


Here people can explore what it will be like to live with Adaptive Architecture in our homes by considering its impacts on furnishings, tableware, art, and interior design. This includes works that connect multiple tangible artefacts to support wellbeing, like ‘An Internet of Soft Things’, an exhibit that features smart pillows, throws and soft funrishings that alow us to communicate how we are feeling through a network of inbuilt sensors.   

There are also those that react to inhabitants’ interactions and changes in the environment. ActuEater is one of these works and is an actuated table-runner that changes its physical shape in response to people’s interactions around the table. It responds to proximity and touch both by the diners’ hands or tableware. ActuEater shows how an interactive interior element can be simultaneously a resource for social engagement and a dynamic decorative artefact.

Materials and Mechanisms

This area features experimentations with how biological processes, materials and actuating mechanisms will impact the buildings that we inhabit. This includes building components that double as luminaries like the ‘Brick O Lamp’ that is powered by microorganisms.  There are also those that record and transform our conversations. In addition, works presented here explore how buildings might be altered in form and appearance via the application of novel actuation mechanisms and techniques.

Connection to the City

This zone explores how people live with architectural adaptivity that connects to the exterior and wider urban space. This includes facade technologies that allow the manipulation of the threshold between exterior and interior, the use of narrative to change the character and appearance of buildings, and the projection of otherwise very personal data into wider urban space.

Neil Walker, Curator at Lakeside Arts said, “This is a very unique and exciting exhibition which allows a high degree of interaction, something we know our visitors enjoy. It brings together art, architecture and technology and showcases how the digital age can be both beautiful and functional.”

This free exhibition runs from the 12th May – 17th June in the Angear Visitor Centre at Lakeside Arts.


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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

For more information, contact Holger Schnadelbach on or 0115 9514094 or or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5751, or

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager (Faculty of Science)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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