Thanks to innovative manufacturing, there may now be a solution to a problem many in the working world face: a lack of privacy in an open office.
MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, with help from Google, have created “Transformable Meeting Spaces” – each of which are 10-feet-wide by 8-feet-tall cocoon-like spaces that can be pulled down from a ceiling and used at any time. The structure, which can fit between six and eight people, can simply be pushed back up when the meeting is over.
The space’s shell is retractable and connected by 36 fiberglass rods. The rods and knit together in a cylindrical braid and interwoven into a textile-like material that has been described as a “moveable skeleton” that moves similarly to a Chinese finger trap. The felt lining on the rods keeps noise from traveling outside the pod.
The combination of the weave, material, and a little bit of energy from the structure’s counterweight makes it possible for the workspace to lower from the ceiling and transform without motors, gears, or any source of energy. MIT and Google created a series of prototypes in different sizes (10 cm, 1.5 m, 3 m, 6 m and 20 m) to demonstrate “articulating woven structures for various applications.”
Skylar Tibbits, a co-director and founder of the Self-Assembly Lab, says this is just the beginning. He envisions one day using the research to develop woven structures as big as Olympic stadiums that can be collapsed without disturbing the urban landscape and local economy. The lab says it is already applying the same concept to larger, more complex projects, including a transformable tower.
To see the pods in action, watch the video below: