• Night rendering of Vibronic Environments cluster.

  • Night rendering of Vibronic Environments in PS1 courtyard.

  • Exploded axonometric of Vibronic Environments hardware: Drape-formed acrylic celing pad elements suspended by tension cables, vertical conduits for the distribution of wiring, drape-formed acrylic ground pad surface, CNC-milled ground pad substructure.

  • Rendered entry view of Vibronic Environments in PS1 courtyard.

  • Axonometric of typical Vibronic Environment programmatic unit, consisting of ground pad and ceiling pads embedded with responsive lighting and vibrotactile technologies.

Vibronic Environments


Installation Design

servo in collaboration with Small Design Firm and biothing

Competition finalist for the design of a temporary outdoor structure at PS1 in New York. Sponsored and commissioned by PS1/MoMA’s Young Architects Program.

Project Description

In 2004 servo was a finalist in PS1/MoMA’s Young Architect’s Program. The program holds an invited competition to design a temporary outdoor structure for PS1’s courtyard to be installed for the duration of the summer. In correspondence with the museum’s summer DJ event series Warm Up, the structure is intended to support a number of informal programs such as shading, sitting and resting, as well as various cooling zones like wading pools and misting areas.

Developed in collaboration with a number of fabrication and plastics consultants, the Vibronic Environment’s physical architecture takes the form of a dispersed field of horizontal and vertical elements. Conceived as an augmented environment, the system grows and accumulates throughout the space of the courtyard, resembling a thickened surface or mat. This mat is comprised of two primary layers of drape-formed acrylic surfaces: a landscape of ground pads and a canopy of ceiling pads. Each system was generated using algorithmic computer modeling. The ground and ceiling pad layers are woven together by a thick fabric of vertical tubing elements which give the overall system its atmospheric quality, provide structural stability, and act as conduit for the distribution of cabling specific to the environment’s virtual architecture. The ground pads support the sitting, resting, and wading programs while the ceiling pads provide shade during the day and lighting in the evening.

The Vibronic Environment was developed in collaboration with a larger team involving two other groups. Small Design Firm devised the virtual software systems and biot(h)ing designed a resting accessory for the scheme. Embedded into the acrylic surfaces of the ground and ceiling pads, a responsive network of lighting and vibrotactile technologies activates the architecture with real-time processed information. Live sonic data from the DJ’s mixing board is captured and processed by a computer running custom software. The software uses a variety of algorithms to filter the incoming sonic information and outputs transformed versions of the initial pattern, a series of re-mixes that are distributed throughout the architecture’s surfaces in the form of light using programmable LED’s and in the form of inaudible vibration using sonic transducers. Effectively this exchange transforms sound into other material states, augmenting and re-figuring local aspects of the architectural system.

A similarly sensitive set of relationships operates at smaller scales of the environment as well. Poli::mat is a surface system conceived and designed by biot(h)ing which slips through various ground and body conditions, operating as a poly-use accessory. Poli::mat’s surface patterns were generated using computational algorithms that script variable relationships of speeds between the cells of a parametric field, which in turn configure the pattern of the surface. Higher degrees of speed in the field increase the pattern’s intricacy, while lower speeds decrease its depth. Poli::mat was designed to be fabricated out of chemically cross-linked polyethylene foam in a variety of colors and genetically variable patterns.

Project Credits

servo in collaboration with Small Design Firm and biothing

David Erdman, Marcelyn Gow, Ulrika Karlsson, Chris Perry
Design Team: Ezra Ardolino, Tyen Masten, Aaron White, Greg Alpers, Jaron Lubin, Jennifer Park, Julianna Morais

Responsive Lighting and Vibrotactile Design
Small Design Firm
David Small, Mike McKenna
Design Team: Eric Gunther, John Rothenberg

Polimat Accessory Design
Alisa Andrasek
Design Team: Tobias Schwinn
Foam and fabrication consultant: UFP Technologies

Fabrication Consultants
Kintz Platiscs, Warner Brothers Studios, Ilan Dei Studio

Consulting Engineers
Robert Silman & Associates


Atofina Plastics U.S.A., Lightblocks Inc.

Special Thanks

MB Wellington Studio Inc., Nat Oppenheimer, Russell Davies