Interactive Architecture

Interactive Architecture

Fall 2011, Graduate Studio, Master of Architecture in Design Technologies

Instructor:  Jonathan Grinham, Guest Lecturer in Architecture



The fall 2011 Design Technologies laboratory explores the proliferation of interactive architecture and the possibility of interconnecting people and objects. The goal of the laboratory is to understand the key concepts of interactivity and their relation to design and architecture. Interactivity requires more than developing interactive phones, games, reading devices that confine their interactivity to surfaces of screens. Interactivity requires an understanding of the complex physical interactions facilitated by embedded computation and physical kinetic counterparts and the application of such knowledge to design and production.

The laboratory focuses on the creative opportunities of off-the-shelf sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers. Through the design development of responsive architectural systems we will investigate the technical requirements of integrating interactive design, physical computing and virtual simulations. Design research will require collaborations and contamination of multiple disciplines including: architecture; product design; cognitive psychology; computer science; mechanical engineering; electrical engineering. Although we will strive for physical collaboration an ‘invisible college’ pedagogy will be adopted. This pedagogical approach recognized the vast open source online communities of the new media culture and their potential novel forms of collaboration.  The development of new tectonics through interactivity does not necessitate a pure search for newness, rather we will build upon these open source platforms and emerging digital technologies in order to understand how these architectures are conceived, designed and produced. For this reason interactive architecture does require incorporating new interdisciplinary knowledge in design, computation and robotics, ultimately blurring the lines between architecture and other design, scientific, and engineering fields.

Instructional Methods

The fall 2011 Design Technologies laboratory will adopt a three-stage research method.

Stage [1], foundation and technologies, will be an information overload—please be aware. This stage will first explore the diagram, Gilles Deleuze’s abstract machine, and its metaphysical and literal mechanization of structuring principles of organization and design. Concurrent to this investigation technology workshops will be held on a daily bases. We will first learn basic programming structure and syntax through the Proccessing programming environment. From this point basic principles of electronics, circuitry and off-the-shelf hardware will be added. Finally, the primary technologies, Arduino and Arduino programming environment, will be taught. *note: throughout this stage lectures and case studies will explore principles directly related to interactive architecture.

Stage [2], application and contamination, will actively investigate and execute concepts related to interactivity using CUarch’s Solar Decathlon proposal as a research vessel. The laboratory will actively interface with the students and faculty of the ANTS studio. This collaboration will be equal and unbinding.  Given the ‘blurring’ or interdisciplinary blind spot within which interactive architecture resides the scope of investigation is potentially infinite while technical skills will still be young. For reason we will strive for an ‘invisible college’ research methodology where in independent, open source, research will be expected and instruction will move towards a one-to-one co-investigation. *note: through out this stage open q&a sessions will be held along with addition workshops on necessary tools including but not limited to, Rhino, Vray, XML, Grasshopper, MastercamX.

Stage [3], resolution, will culminate in a final prototype(s) and instillation(s). Prototypes or potential developed within stage [2] will be further explored, amplified and resolved.  The performance aspect of this stage will require equal improvisation.

Course Goals

The fall 2011 Design Technologies laboratory serves as an incubator for the investigation of the materials, technologies, collaborations and critical theories related to interactive architecture. The laboratory approach specifically addresses the following objectives: (1) understand the underlying foundation of physical computing in architectural robotics, including computation logic, mechanical and electrical systems related to, but not limited to, servomechanism, photoresistors, LEDs, thermoelectrics, etc.(2) Understand the design issues of integrating robotics into building components and assemblies such as façade systems, lighting systems, energy systems, etc. (3) Develop design inspirations through the application of architectural robotics into our daily lives such as intelligent homes of the future (4) Understand the connectivity strategies to link virtual environments and social and data networks with real-world counterparts (5) Understand how to work in multidisciplinary teams of architecture, engineering, construction, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.

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