Author Nicholas Derenzo Illustration Jameson Simpson
Constructing an energy-efficient, eco-friendly house can pose a unique challenge: An abode that’s perfectly suited to one time of year (say, with tiny windows to keep out the cold in the wintertime) suddenly becomes inefficient once the seasons turn. But who says a house needs to be static? Not London-based architects David Ben-Grünberg and Daniel Woolfson of the D*Haus Company, who have designed the D*Dynamic, a shape-shifting home that opens and closes on itself to create eight unique configurations, each designed to take advantage of the conditions of the changing seasons. Set on a series of circular tracks, the flexible, origami-like house collapses and expands like a flower blossoming and closing throughout the day to take advantage of the sunlight. This year, the first D*Dynamic house is set to be completed in Cambridgeshire, England, and its easily replicable format could prove to be an even bigger game-changer in places with larger winter-to-summer meteorological swings. Here’s how the architectural development will unfold.
1. The D*Haus blueprint takes its shape from a puzzle created in 1908 by English mathematician Henry Ernest Dudeney, who devised a way to split a square into four irregular shapes that could be rearranged perfectly into an equilateral triangle. These pieces are then connected by hinges, so they can rotate into place on circular rails.
2. In the winter, the house is shaped like a compact, insulated square (think of it as a tightly closed flower), with only small windows on the facade, making it particularly well-equipped to trap and store heat. In the warmer months, the house can “blossom,” transforming into various triangles and irregular shapes with greater surface area. Interior glass walls swing to become external facades, allowing in more sunlight and ventilation during seasons when you’d want to be more engaged with the Great Outdoors.
3. The house can also be programmed to change its shape throughout the day—for energy efficiency as well as for aesthetics. Depending on the house’s location, it can rotate along its axis to allow a resident to, say, wake up to the sunrise and then spend the evening watching the sunset. While the D*Dynamic is often compared to a blossoming flower, perhaps an even better analogy is a lazy housecat, stretching out and curling up in a sunny spot to feel the coziest and most comfortable.