German “Soft House” Flexes with the Sun

Moveable exterior and interior, aided by technology, creates a dynamic, sustainable living space.


A demonstration of innovative housing unveiled at the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, offers a new model of home construction, where technology and building materials work together to adapt to the changing needs of a home’s inhabitants. On the exterior of the showcase house, an interactive, flexible façade harvests energy; on the inside, smart curtains move to configure space and adjust lighting levels.

“The Soft House is an ‘active’ house,” says Sheila Kennedy, principal of KVA Matx, a team of architects who designed the house. “The wood structure is enduring while the domestic infrastructure of energy, lighting, and space become more like furnishings, mobile, interactive and connected to the soft house wireless network.”

The soft-wood construction of the house is complemented by flexible photovoltaic materials that “twist” in response to the sun. In addition to this intelligent harvesting of sunlight, the design of the house casts shade in the summer and allows light to penetrate during the winter to minimize the need for heating. On the exterior LED lighting moves in patterns, or curtains, to create a “virtual breeze.” The virtual breeze is one of many lighting scenes that respond to the outdoor conditions.

While innovative in its design and use of technology, the Soft House also meets German PassiveHaus environmental standards.

IBA Soft House from Frano Violich on Vimeo.

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