Rockers are smart, clean energy charging stations disguised as outdoor rocking lounges. Unlike conventional ‘hard’ urban infrastructure, The SOFT Rocker leverages its environment in a dynamic manner by using the human power of balance to create an interactive 35 watt solar tracking system. Put your body weight in play with a real time energy harvesting feedback loop that senses how you orient the rocker to the sun. By day, charge or run any USB device from speakers to cell phones. At night, enjoy renewable lighting loops for social gatherings.

The SOFT Rocker loop form explores how standard softwood panels can be mass-customized to any site using parametric design software and automated fabrication with a lightweight Kuka robotic arm. The project advances digital kerfing methods developed by Christoph Schindler/ETH with wood joining techniques which enable panels to be interlocked and formed into a continuous undulating wood surface. The interdisciplinary SOFT Rocker project combines hi- and low-tech design strategies: it produces electricity but engages the body and works like furniture ‘by hand’; it mixes sun tracking and social dynamics; it is a site specific object and a variable form family of soft wood construction. The SOFT Rocker blurs distinctions between pleasure and work and recasts power generation as a distributed public activity rather than a centralized, singular project of engineering.

Date: 2011
Status: Completed
Client: MIT FAST Festival
Location: MIT Killian Courtyard, Cambridge, MA
Design Team:
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA, MIT Professor of the Practice of Architecture, Principal of KVA MATx
Jungmin NAM, GSD MArch, 2009, KVA Designer
James Bayless, UC MArch 2014, KVA Intern
Kaitlyn Bogenschutz, UC BS Arch 2013, KVA Intern
Wardah Inam, MIT PhD Candidate 2015, ELectric Engineering
Shevy Rockcastle, MIT SMarchS 2011
Phil Seaton, MIT MArch 2012
Matt Trimble, MIT MArch 2008, RADLAB
Adnon Zolij, MIT BS 2010, Electrical Engineer Vicor, Inc

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