Architecture today constitutes places of multiple processes, and through the introduction of electronic networks various services are being offered. The progression of technologies that infuse public space is fast and therefore a vast variety of different approaches exist which are driven by customer-centred services. However, due to the emergent problems of interoperability and interconnectivity of such network-centred service domains, different approaches are isolated by nature. They are targeted at individual users rather than at a collective (constituted by an audience). In contrast to individual users who may be satisfied with services offered by a specific technical service provider, a greater audience as a coherent entity would be attracted through experiences based on sensory perception created through means of well-designed environments. The collective experience eventually can be shared and related back to if not even generate motivation to transform and adapt the given circumstance. Hence, contemporary networking services are lacking seamlessness and interoperability, and foremost interconnectivity. Due to various driving factors in the ongoing technical development as well as to our market-economical framing conditions, a holistic hierarchy of communicating networks still remains to be established. Its enduring absence does not represent an isolated phenomenon. Unfortunately, there have not been enough pre-decided initiatives formed yet (be it economic or social) to unify processes or services in a more efficient way. The time has come for architects, artists and engineers to breach the mental barriers between respective research fields.
Reference project by Clara Boj & Diego Díaz (exhibited at Ars Electronica 2008): “Based on the idea of hybrid cities (understood as the result of the transformations of the actual models of perception and experience of the city through the effects of the
integration of technological
systems in the public space), we propose to transform public adventure playgrounds into interactive audiovisual gaming spaces, provoking physical-digital game experiences and facilitating collaborative relations between users. Urban playground devices thus become tangible interfaces that allow for computer game-like experiences.”
Image: The subject of engaged user behaviour in the public sphere
Reference project by Assocreation, establishes connection between two geographically distant cities through two wooden catwalks.
« Image: relating to the subject of engaged user behaviour in the public sphere
Introducing Artistic Strategies to the Social Realm of the City
Designers and artists start to envision digital technology increasingly as the key resource for scenario-based concepts of space. At early planning stages, technological standards are
being introduced to design processes following a growing collective demand to access technology at any time in any given location. Future generations of computers (aggregated to ubiquitous computing networks) will provide extended functionality and will be increasingly integrated within common objects of daily use. By embedding technology into “everyday” objects/scenarios, formerly non-digital interfaces in public space are being redesigned. Users start to become involved with innovative technology-driven means of communication. New ways of instant, spontaneous self-expression are encouraged without necessarily reinforcing the touch-oriented handling of non-electronic interfaces and objects in public space (e.g. urban elements such
as trash-cans, bus stops, playground furniture etc.). The principle of integration of mobile networks into stationary networks bears a flexible use of varying services offered within discontinuous system environments. Business models have to be developed in direct response. We envision hypothetic arrangements which through means of assimilated
technologies in objects represented through sensors will allow to absorb data scanned in the actual environment (smart objects/context-awareness: environmental data becomes translated into pictorial space). With our project we were aiming to emphasize on research methodologies which would guide us to anticipate technology-driven parameters reflected in the patterns of user behaviour. Eventually, this would lead to a greater understanding of future developments in the daily use of objects and in the perception/ production of contemporary space. Due to digital technology, user communication as well as patterns of movement in space
can be perceived as potential data feeding back into the urban system of cross-linked, dynamic forces. In the conscious minds of city inhabitants the prevailing physical map of a
city has been updated through Wiki-maps etc. Built environments as such only re-appear on the navigating screen as long as it is able to communicate updated, accessible program and/or monetary infrastructure. Reaching back, modern design terminology of the early 20th century already had been based on key words such as “flexibility” and “technology” serving as the ideological backbone of multiple innovative planning processes. Berthold Brecht expressed a visionary insight into the social potential of the first electronic mass medium. As an example for the idea
of user-updated contents, he already proposed 1932 that radio should be bi-directional in order to become “an apparatus in public life”. However, just a few years later, dictatorships in Europe and Russia have subverted his ideas and changed the radio into a push-only broadcast medium for propaganda. Able to invade all the private and intimate spaces in the own and the enemy state it turned out to change at the same time the understanding of space dramatically: space was bound to be understood as flexible as well as technological at once.
Ever since it was first discussed in the modern era of the past century, flexible space either implied the unique opportunity to determine the plan of ones own living unit or it allowed for continuous structural adaption through the physical movement of sliding elements. In the 1960’s, the terminology became further developed towards symbolic aspects of plurality, tolerance and informality: the “open plan” had been transformed into a neutral, transparent space liberated from furniture and specific program. Today, spatial flexibility implies the implementation of technology, which becomes effective primarily in programmatic and operational terms. However, it can already be anticipated that with broader spreading of building automation and smart home technology, myriads of services will appear, which also will feed back to construction in terms of integrating actuators for fulfilling services to a user.
Reference project by Diller & Scofidio: “A pliable ribbon that locates production (atelier) to one side and presentation (museum/theater) to the other. This ribbon undulates from side to side as it climbs vertically from the street. The floor becomes wall, turns into floor, turns into wall,
etc. With each change of direction, the ribbon enfolds a production space or a presentation space, alternately. The combing of programs also combs together two diverse populations: the building’s residents (students, artists, and staff) and the building’s visitors (museum and theater goers). The alternating programs require each population to pass through the space of the other while moving between successive levels.”
Image: Spatial flexibility and transformative conceptualisation of built structures