“Transformable design” is the term that Chuck Hoberman uses to describe the focus of his multidisciplinary practice, Hoberman Associates. The 19-year-old New York City-based firm fuses sculpture, engineering, and product design to create objects with the ability to change size and shape. It is perhaps best known for the Hoberman Sphere, which relies on a series of scissor-like joints to collapse from an open polyhedron to a tightly packed sphere. It has been fabricated in many sizes, all the way from a palm-sized toy to a giant sculpture found at the Liberty Science Museum in Jersey City. But Hoberman’s oeuvre also includes retractable domes, medical instruments, and a stage for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
The firm is also applying its expertise with kinetic objects to buildings in order to create automated and responsive enclosures that can provide shading or ventilation. Facades are ripe for such adaptive components, according to Hoberman. “The envelope plays the single largest role in building performance,” he says. “Not only in relationship to energy consumption, but also with regard to occupant comfort.”