A new 15-story tower in Tokyo features what its creator, the New York based designer Chuck Hoberman, calls "transformable design." Hoberman combines engineering and sculpture to produce structures that can change size and shape in response to changing conditions.

His firm, Hoberman Associates, has worked on everything from retractable roof domes to medical instruments. His most famous creation is undoubtedly the Hoberman Sphere, a popular children's toy. However, the tower in Tokyo, opened this past October, is the first time he has been able to apply his principles to a building.

The building features a double facade, with the inner wall positioned three feet from the exterior. Within this gap, 185 shutters can rotate in or out of place, alternately letting light in or shielding the windows from the glare of direct sunlight. The entire shutter system is automated, using photo sensors to detect the optimal shutter positions at any given moment. Hoberman estimates the shutters reduce heat gain by up to ten percent. The shutters also have entertainment value, as they move in unison as part of a nighttime light show.


Hoberman Associates has a number of other projects that hope to utilize transformable design. Here's a gallery of the Tokyo building:

[Architectural Record]