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Award-winning design takes ‘smart home’ concept to new robotic heights

“Connected Living," Jin Young Song's winning design of interconnected towers with robotic, self-building intelligence, is on display in the SeMA (Seoul Museum of Art) through Nov. 12, alongside the competition’s other top finishers.


Published November 6, 2017

Imagine an apartment tower that expands — and downsizes — to respond to our rapidly changing lifestyles. This off-the-charts smart building design has won UB architecture professor Jin Young Song first place in an international competition to consider design in the “self-evolving city.”

The prebuilt units are visible in the design prototype, with railways running over the tree line below. The intelligent robots maneuver around the tower facade in order to serve people’s changing lifestyles.

Song, assistant professor of architecture, conceived of “Connected Living” based on his research on the 1960s Metabolism movement and emerging prefabrication and robotics in manufacturing. The proposal presents a series of interconnected towers that self-construct and de-construct through embedded robots that respond to their environment. The robots are integrated to the building façade to modify, add and remove prefabricated units when necessary, maximizing flexibility and supporting sustainable residential culture.

"Connected Living" in its urban context.

The Self-Evolving City Competition, organized by International Union of Architects (UIA) of Seoul 2017, focused on themes of urban transition and designs for a changing world, similar to how a brain adapts to a changing environment. Using “schemes, cognitive maps and a model of mental states to represent the self,” designers from around the world were asked to conceive designs that can assess and adapt to performative and environmental conditions.

Architectural critic Gunsoo Shin reviewed Song’s project: “Individual architecture of the aesthetic dimension disappears, and what remains is urban residence of the ethical dimension,” he wrote in a published article. “The necessity-based expansion and contraction of residential units happens midair, so that the discriminative hierarchy of the land, where value is created by money, disappears.”

The exhibition is open for audiences to make their own apartment units using provided papers. The photo above represents "Connected Living" after three days of audience participation.

“Connected Living” is on display in the SeMA (Seoul Museum of Art) through Nov. 12, alongside the competition’s other top finishers. At the museum, people can fold papers and punch windows to make future apartments.

UB students and associates from Song’s firm, Dioinno Architecture, helped develop the museum exhibit. Members of the design team included Hashim Ajlouni (MArch ‘16), William Baptiste (MArch ‘18), Ning Ding (Architecture BS ’18), Tino Goo (MArch ‘16), Euychan Jung (MArch ‘18), Laeyeon Kim (exchange student to UB), Seungjun Lee (BAED ‘19), David Hakcheol Seo (BS ’18), Daniel Vrana (MArch ‘16) and Bonghwan Kim, a structure consultant with Skidmore Owings and Merrills LLP.

Song also received first place in the Laka Competition last year with his project “Snapping Façade,” built with the assistance of Jongmin Shim, UB assistant professor of civil, structural, and environmental engineering.