PULLMAN – A project that introduces behavior-based energy efficiency strategies by interpreting real-time biological and emotional data of a room’s occupant has earned a World Architecture Award for WSU’s Mona Ghandi.
This international award from the World Architecture Community (WAC) recognizes remarkable projects that have the potential to inspire contemporary architectural discourse, according to the WAC website.
Ghandi, an assistant professor of architecture in the School of Design and Construction, calls the project Stomata. It is a smart dynamic heating and cooling system that uses artificial intelligence to respond to an occupant’s current comfort level and emotional state. The project’s name is an ode to the tiny pores in plant leaves that play an important role in photosynthesis and respond to various environmental circumstances to allow a plant to grow.
The project uses biological data markers, such as a person’s heart rate, temperature, and sweat gland activity, that is collected with wearable technology. The information is then analyzed and communicated to a honeycomb-shaped smart shell system that is responsive in real-time to occupant needs. The wall-like shell is made of 21 hexagons, each outfitted with six wings that open and close, much like a camera’s aperture. Each hexagon passively renders light, ventilation, views, heating and cooling to the occupant.
Ghandi aims to use Stomata to reduce energy consumption within the commercial sector, where temperatures are often generalized across all occupants. With personalization in place, the relationship between the built environment and the occupant could be strengthened without sacrificing sustainability, and buildings can move toward optimizing energy consumption.
The project also could be used in the medical sector, helping and empowering elderly people or those with disabilities or motor system disorders to have control over their environments.
A two-time recipient of a World Architecture Award, Ghandi focuses her research on cyber-physical adaptive spaces which respond to the needs of a user in real-time using affective computing and artificial intelligence. By connecting architecture, neurology, computer science and material science, she explores how the wellbeing of people and the environment can be established and maintained in a space.
“Our work contributes to the design of future spaces conceived as living organisms,” Ghandi said. “It creates a link between human behavior and the built environment.”