Architecture, Culture and Tectonics Research Group

ACT Guest Seminar 5th April 2023

B38 Lenton Firs
Wednesday 5th April 2023 (13:00-14:00)
For further information please contact Professor Jonathan Hale, or send an email to
The Architecture, Culture & Tectonics Research Group warmly invites you to attend their Seminar on Wednesday 2nd November 2022 at 13pm in B5 Marmont Centre  

Pneufin: Development of soft pneumatic adaptive external shading

ACT seminar image 1

Guest Speaker: Rakhmat Fitranto Aditra



This presentation will present the overview and progress of a thesis on the soft pneumatic adaptive system. Soft pneumatic adaptive system (SPAS) is the term used in this thesis to cover any building system that could be adapted to specific needs by the actuating flexible pneumatic chamber. This thesis emerges from the apparent uniqueness of switchable cushion foil structure among other SPAS. Switchable cushion foil is one type of SPAS applied on the south façade of Kingsdale School in London, Media-TIC in Barcelona, and Festo Technology Centre in Paris. Switchable cushion foil uses a very low pressure to be actuated. While switchable cushion foil is virtually different from every other SPAS, it is still unknown what makes one SPAS different from the other. From the initial literature review, it was also found that there was limited specific discussion about SPAS. Thus, in this thesis, a classification of SPAS is being formulated to understand the critical difference between each of them. Pneufin, a novel SPAS inspired by the characteristic of switchable cushion foil, is also developed and analysed in this thesis.

This presentation will first attempt to summarise the current progress of this research. The classification was done on various examples of SPAS, ranging from research prototypes to fully functional building systems. It also varies from façade to roof system but excludes deployable structure as it has different rigidity control requirements. Being an external shading, the main inspected aspect of Pneufin is its structural performance. The structural performance of Pneufin is interpreted as how its wing withstands the wind moment force. This presentation will explain how the structural performance was simulated and how the prototypes were built and experimented with.

This thesis also discusses how the Pneufin performs to improve building energy and daylight performance. Through simulation, it was found that these performances were unique per building context and the applied shading configuration and control. Thus, at the end of this presentation, the potential application and insight from researching this topic will be discussed.


After graduating from Institut Teknologi Bandung in 2014, Rakhmat Fitranto Aditra has been a researcher and lecturer in his alma mater since 2015. His research focuses on structure and construction exploration with computational design. He has been involved in various research and projects, especially to support construction and technical problems with a computational approach. While his previous projects explored bamboo and wood, currently, he explores pneumatic structures in his PhD at the University of Nottingham. His thesis proposes new soft pneumatic adaptive shading and analyses its structural and environmental performance.

Architecture, Culture and Tectonics

The University of Nottingham
Faculty of Engineering
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 74 86257