SMAAD Surface

by Akira Wakita
13 May 2013 / 5281 Views


SMAAD Surface 4.20/5 (15 votes)

Prototyping Tool for Organic Architecture
Recently Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and many other architects produce buildings with organic surface shapes. In their design process, it is essential to model and render the buildings using 3D CAD systems and CG in order to grasp the shapes. However, Architectural designers tend to like grasping shapes and spaces through physical models in real space.

Due to this, an additional process is required to materialize the virtual models into tangible ones. 3D printers are used for the purpose. Although the current 3D printers requires a long hours to output models in many cases. Besides, 3D Printers use plaster or resin to output models, so that it is difficult to quickly modify and redesign them.

SMAAD – Smart Material Aided Architectural Design
Our approach is to use smart materials in the process of CAAD(Computer Aided Architecural Design). SMAAD is the abbreviated form of “Smart Material Aided Architectural Design” or “Shape Memory Alloy Aided Architectural Design”. SMAAD Surface is an instance of SMAAD which is implemented as a first prototype.



Yet Another Programmable Surface

SMAAD Surface is a fabric input/output device that uses fibrous shape memory alloy (SMA). By referencing Surflex (the first programmable surface [Coelho 08]), we have improved the ability to maintain, record and play back arbitrary surface shapes through feed-back loop. This fabric functions as a smart material and designers can modify its shape through manual operations. As the flex sensor detects the fabric shape and the actuator works to maintain the shape, a designer can model the fabric shape as if he/she manually models a free-form surface. The surface shape is sent to a 3D CAD through a microcontroller and the digital data can be modified in the same manner as the shape of the fabric device. In the same way, if the digital data is modified in the 3D CAD, the command is sent to the fabric device so that the fabric shape can be modified to follow the digital data.

more info:


-Akira Wakita, Akito Nakano, Michihiko Ueno, SMAAD Surface: A Tangible Interface For Smart Material Aided Architectural Design, in Proceedings of CAADRIA 2011(The 16th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia), pp.355-364, Newcastle Australia, April 27-29, 2011. (Best Paper Award)

- Akira Wakita, Michihiko Ueno, Akito Nakano, pSurface: Fabric I/O Device for Architectural Algorithmic Design, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Algorithmic Design for Architecture and Urban Design, ALGODE TOKYO 2011, March 14-16, 2011, Tokyo, Japan.

Design Team
Concept and Direction: Akira Wakita
Hardware and Middleware: Michihiko Ueno
Software: Akito Nakano