solar soft rockers

Project Manager, KVA matX & MIT 150th Anniversary

Soft Rockers was a collaboration between graduate students at MIT and designers at Kennedy & Violich Architecture in Boston. The project was initiated as part of MIT’s 150th Anniversary celebration and was meant to showcase the interdisciplinary nature of the institute. The form of the rocker was developed through the use of design scripting; making use of grasshopper to optimize the geometry and balance while generating custom cut files for the curvature of each wooden arc. Using a method of “zip” kerfing introduced by Christoph Schindler, the team developed a method for generating complex “zip-shapes” through the use of a 5-axis CNC mill. Each curve could be exported from Rhino, unrolled into a custom set of “zip-shapes” and cut from flat pieces of 4 x 8 MDF.

Rather than using extensive formwork to create the curvature of each arc, the flat pieces can be glued together in a vacuum bag with no additional waste. The PV panels located on the top of each rocker provide power for the 8-volt battery, which in turn powers a set of USB charging ports and electro luminescent lighting strip for night-time use. The rockers were specifically designed for Boston’s latitude and can be easily rotated into position to face the sun for optimal charging. The inclination was designed to accommodate the average weight of a user in lounge-position. When activated (someone seated), the panel is directly perpendicular to the sun’s noon-time rays.

design team:  Phil Seaton, Jungmin Nam, James Bayless, Kaitlyn Bogenschutz, Katie Heinrich, Wardah Inam, Sheila Kennedy & Frano Violich

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