published on 29 November 2021 in energy

CELIA brings architecture to life

AI planetworks has developed CELIA, an innovative system in which architecture literally comes to life, autonomously responding to human presence and changing its shape according to the time of day. CELIA, short for Computer Enhanced, Luminous Interactive Architecture, is an illuminated, kinetic ceiling in the Ping An Asset Tower in Shenzhen, China. This device processes sensor data to generate its own intricate motion and lighting patterns in response to human movement and the building’s internal systems. It is not virtual reality, but enhanced reality.

The ability to perceive and respond to external stimuli is one of the hallmarks of life, so it was nature that inspired the visionaries at AI planetworks. The architects examined simple bioluminescent organisms, such as certain species of jellyfish, with the aim of equipping the building with a primitive nervous system to make it appear to be communicating with its surroundings.

The tower was designed to increase the density of the site by connecting one of the world’s busiest urban centres. The architects planned to position the building’s 208-metre-high tower above a large elevated public square. The proximity of the ceiling to the public space below thus created the ideal stage for the CELIA project to become a reality, creating a ‘fifth façade’ that is usually not present in buildings.

CELIA’s final configuration uses 108 movable ‘petals’ and 2,484 LED lights, each individually adjustable. The petal movement control system uses both indoor and outdoor environmental sensors and two operating modes: a first human-activated mode, in which infrared sensors detect movement below and activate a very striking automatic lighting response; the second operating mode involves direct activation by the building’s occupants to make the petals open and draw in fresh air from the tower’s lower wall.

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