Elena Vazquez Pena

Elena Vazquez Pena
School of Architecture
Research Fellow Technology and Design

 

Elena Vazquez, PhD. is a computational designer, researcher, and educator. Her work focuses on smart materials for adaptive buildings, and it has been supported by the American Institute of Architects Upjohn Research Initiative Grant and the Architectural Research Centers Consortium. Her interdisciplinary research bridges material science and computational design and has won awards such as the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award

Elena holds a Ph.D. in Architecture (Design Computing), a Master of Science in Architecture, and a graduate certificate in Additive Manufacturing from Penn State. She obtained her professional degree in Architecture from the Universidad Nacional de Asunción. There, she founded an architecture studio with her partner and worked on several housing projects' design and construction supervision. Her master's work: "Perforated Masonry Walls: Creating a digital framework for optimizing environmental performance through shape configuration," has been recognized with the "Distinguished Master's Thesis Award," an acknowledgment of excellence in master's thesis research. In Spring 2018, she received the ARCC King Medal for Excellence in Architectural and Environmental Research. 

As a computational designer, she has worked and collaborated with architecture studios and manufacturing companies such as SOM, Zahner, and BamCore. In addition, she has extensively published in computer-aided architectural design proceedings, including eCAADe, Sigradi, Caadria, and CAADFutures, and peer-reviewed journals. Elena is a 2016-2018 Fulbright scholar, a 2020-2021 Waddell Biggart Graduate Fellow, and a 2021-2022 Freiburg Rising Star

EXPLORE HER RECENT WORK

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Bistable screens: Smart Materials for Kinetic Architecture
The snapping skins project explores elastic instability as a means to develop kinetic architectural skins that adjust to different environmental conditions. The research draws from recent developments in material science and engineering in smart materials, relying on shape-changing and bistable materials. 
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Strategies for PV integration in kinetic bistable facade. This study seeks to develop a prototype for a kinetic shading screen combined with a PV system for energy harvesting. Since daylight and energy harvesting need to be considered, this research aims to develop a framework for optimizing both factors in a defined case study.  
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Kinetic Shading System: Design and Fabrication Strategies using Kerf Bending Techniques. The project's goal is to develop a kinetic compliant shade using kerf bending techniques–creating flexible forms from rigid panels. To develop the kinetic screen, we propose to use bistable compliant thin bamboo beams. The project aims to reduce buildings’ carbon footprint by offering kinetic shade systems that can be adjusted to different environmental conditions.
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