atelier dna

Design Laboratory

Knitted pavilion

A canopy that finds its own shape. A minimal surface within a flexible boundary.
loop screenshot




2010. Masdar U.A.E.
Windstalk  is a concept for a wind powered electricity generator that is also a public space.
Our project takes clues from the way the wind sways a field of wheat, or reeds in a marsh.
Our project consists of 1203 stalks, 55 meters high, anchored to the ground with concrete bases that range between 10 to 20 meters 
in diameter. The stalks are made of carbon fiber reinforced resin poles, 30 cm in diameter at the base and 5 cm at the top. The top 
50 cm of the poles are lit up by an LED lamp that glows and dims depending on how much the poles are swaying in the wind. When 
there is no wind--when the poles are still--the lights go dark.
The bases that support the poles are laid along the site following a phyllotaxic distribution, the kind we see in the center of a 
sunflower. The bases all touch each other, forming a kind of carpet, a kind of fabric.

The bases of the stalks, are all shaped like a elliptical vortice. When it rains, the rain 
water slides down the slopes of the bases to collect in the spaces between, concentrating 
scarce water. Here, plants can grow wild.
You can walk on the bases of the poles; you can traverse the whole site by walking from base 
to base. You can lean on the slopes, lie down, stay awhile and listen to the sound the wind 
makes as it rushes between the poles.
Within each hollow pole is a stack of piezoelectric ceramic discs. Between the ceramic disks 
are electrodes. Every other electrode is connected to each other by a cable that reaches from 
the top to the bottom of each pole. One cable connects the even electrodes, and another cable 
connects the odd ones. When the wind sways the poles, the stack of piezoelectric disks is 
forced into compression, thus generating a current through the electrodes.

Within each concrete base is a hollow chamber that houses a torque generator.
The generator converts the kinetic energy of the swaying poles into electrical energy by way 
of an array of current generating shock absorbers, which convert energy produced by the forced 
movement of fluid through the shock absorbent cylinders.
The electricity that our project generates isn’t constant, it depends on the wind.
To compensate we make a kind of battery, a capacitor, a way to store energy:
Below the field of poles are two very large chambers, chambers as large as the whole site. The 
chambers are shaped like the bases of the poles but inverted, then inverted again, and again 
and once more.
There’s upper chamber and a lower one beneath. When the wind blows, part of the electricity 
generated powers a set of pumps, the pumps move water from the lower chamber to the upper one. 
When the air is still–when there is no wind– the water from the upper chamber flows down again 
turning the pumps into generators.



7 Mott Street. ‘Blank Canvas’ Language School

Blank-canvas interior of an English-as-a-Second-Language school.

Entry hallway with student storage cubbies.
Light-weight, high-density partitions between classrooms, which double as whiteboards and fold away against back walls, allowing 
for a quick reconfiguration.

When  deployed, the partitions isolate individual classrooms. A white epoxy resin flooring maximizes available light.

Classroom and teacher's lounge. In the background is the school administration's office and waiting area.



Reactive Lighting for Boston’s Copley Square.
ADNA + Dari Parvanov, Ian Lipsky, Josh Merlis, Nilima Rabl, Liam Bradfield.
Our project consists of 1,657 beams of light that shoot up from the ground of Copley Square. They can be bright, but they dim as 
you approach them. When you stand or walk over them, they go dark. They can be any color.
The beams of light are projected from high-power L.E.D. lamps installed on actuated gimbals. The gimbals point the beams depending 
on the stimuli from sensors also embedded within the lamps. The beams of light react to you; they know where you are; they sense 
your movement through the park. They can dance with you. They bob as if they were  floating,  They can open up around you.  Some 
shine upright but tenuously. Some stay slanted after shifting their glare away from a passing pedestrian's eyes.
The lamps are always lit with a power inversely proportional to the glow of the sky as if running away from the sun; but because 
pedestrians can turn them off for a little while by just walking over them, the more the park is used the less power it will 
Other lamps are shining their beams on the existing monuments and statues; but these beams can also move, shift, slowly, gently 
illuminating the statues and obelisks, the hare and the turtle, the fountain--but never settling on one place.
Or you walk into a room of light. It's not like a conventional room, but like a conventional room it surrounds you. And it's more 
than that: this room is everywhere you walk; the room of light follows you around. Eventually you can escape the room of light; you 
can leave it behind waiting to surround the next passer-by.
Or you can leave a trail of darkness as you run across the park; in the middle of the night, the trail of darkness lingers for a 
while. For a while, you can change your mind and retrace your steps.
You can see the beams of light because a thin water mist floats and drifts all around you--the mist comes from an array of spouts 
embedded within the grass and the flower gardens. Weather sensors control the flow of the mist.
The lamps are all connected; they form a network. The networked connections between the lamps are the joints between concrete tiles 
or precision water jet cuts on the existing brick pavement. No two tiles are the same. Sealing the canals or the joints are 
side-emitting fiber optic cables that draw their light from the lamps they connect.
Lamps closer to the edges of the park's pathways and sidewalks point to mirrors arrayed on top of an electronic photo-automaton. 
Like a phototropic plant, the photo-automaton's mirrors move, shift and rotate depending on the direction the light beams are 
coming from; they reflect and guide the light back down, sharp as it arrived, or diffused, or perhaps refracted through prisms and 
crystals. The photo automatons will replace the existing park's lamps.
During the day, photo-voltaic panels on the back of the mirrors are exposed to the sun. The energy they harvest powers the 
installation during the night.

Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears*

2011. A new facade for Moscow's Puskinski Cinema.
Our project begins by looking away, by avoiding eye contact. Our project opens in darkness until it suddenly flickers to life. A 
film leader: 5 (sweep), 4 (sweep), 3 (sweep), 2 (sweep)... A mask appears: a mask that both shields and reveals, a disguise that 
can change; it can be an announcement for an upcoming film or a screen that shows a film--maybe an old film that has by now become 
commercially obsolete but that, regardless, is still worth watching.
Or the mask can react to what's happening around it, behind it. It can react to the sound of the audience inside the cinema. When 
they laugh, real-time fractal generated images light up the mask/screen like fireworks.
You can walk behind the the mask; you can climb up behind it. It is made of steps/seating.
Some of the steps widen to the size of narrow platforms.
Behind the mask is a place for people to spend time--before a film or after. From the park you can see people walking, standing or 
sitting behind it.

*The most popular film in the history of Soviet cinema, (directed by Vladimir Menshov, 1979), it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film 
in 1980 and attracted 84.4 million viewers during its first year.

Elastic Shelters

2011. Flexible enclosures developed from surface folding algorithms and simulated using custom programmed recursive physical 

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.
Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

ReNEWable Times Square

Temporary surface treatments of pedestrian plazas in the heart of Times square.
"...the sidewalks and the streets, the concrete and the clay beneath my feet, begin to crumble..."
Like a glass-bottom boat, our proposal attempts to bring to  mind the fragile dynamism,
of our natural environment by reminding pedestrians of the world beneath the urban fabric.