MIT Soft Rocker

Radlab was commissioned to help rationalize and fabricate two to three full scale rockers, and worked with a team of designers from the office of Kennedy & Violich Architecture, and from MIT. Due to tolerance limitations in our machine that were discovered through a rigorous series of fabrication tests, Radlab was only involved for the prototyping phase of the project.

The leaf-like loop form of the SOFT Rockers explores how standard softwood panels can be mass-customized to adapt to the latitude and sun angle of any site using parametric design software and automated fabrication with a lightweight Kuka robotic arm. The SOFT Rocker combines hi-tech 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 flexible form family of ‘soft’ wood construction. The SOFT Rocker blurs distinctions between pleasure and work and recasts power generation as an integrated and distributed public activity rather than a centralized, singular off-site project of ‘engineering’.(text from

Status: Completed, 2011
Client: MIT School of Architecture and Planning
Location: Cambridge, MA

Project Team
Sheila Kennedy, MIT Professor of the Practice of Architecture
James Bayless, KVA
Kaitlyn Bogenschutz, KVA
Jungmin Nam, KVA

Wardah Inam, MIT PhD 2015, Electrical Engineering
Shevy Rockcastle, MIT SMarchS 2011
Phil Seaton, MIT MArch 2012
Adnon Zolij, MIT BS 2010, Electrical Engineer Vicor, Inc.

Matt Trimble, Radlab
Esko Heilner, Radlab

Photos 1-6 by Soft Rocker Team
Photo 7 by Philip Roper