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Adaptive structures have the ability to modify their shape and internal forces through sensing and actuation in order to maintain optimal performance under changing actions. Previous studies have shown that substantial whole-life energy savings with respect to traditional passive designs can be achieved through well-conceived adaptive design strategies. The whole-life energy comprises an embodied part in the material and an operational part for structural adaptation. Structural adaptation through controlled large shape changes allows a significant stress redistribution so that the design is not governed by extreme loads with long return periods. This way, material utilization is maximized and embodied energy is reduced. A design process based on shape optimization has been formulated to obtain shapes that are optimal for each load case. A geometrically non-linear force method is employed to control the structure into required shapes. This paper presents the experimental testing of a small-scale prototype adaptive structure produced by this design process. The structure is a simply supported planar truss. Shape adaptation is achieved through controlled length changes of turnbuckles that strategically replace some of the structural elements. The stress is monitored by strain sensors fitted on some of the truss elements. The nodal coordinates are monitored by an optical tracking system. Numerical predictions and measurements have a minimum Pearson correlation of 0.86 which indicates good accordance. Although scaling effects have to be further investigated, experimental testing on a small-scale prototype has been useful to assess the feasibility of the design and control methods outlined in this work. Results show that stress homogenization through controlled large shape changes is feasible.