Digital Media, Space, and Architecture

Privacy in the House of the Future by Aleksandar Cetkovic/ Partially Buried University by Karen Patricia O'Rourke/ Digital Media - From Entertainment to Architecture by Bruce Ramus/ Metastatic Envelope by Patrick Henri Harrop/ The Body in Digital Spaces by Marco Cesario and Lena Hopsch
Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:25
Chair Person: 
Yiannis Colakides
Aleksandar Cetkovic
Karen O'Rourke
Bruce Ramus
Patrick Harrop
Marco Cesario
Lena Hopsch

Privacy in the House of the Future

by Aleksandar Cetkovic

In the modern architecture a tendency can be followed of opening to the public and displaying more of our private realms i.e. our homes, that goes hand in hand with the changes of the notion of privacy in society as can be followed in the Internet.

The house of the future is usually portrayed as the ubiquitous house, with all kind of sensors spread over the premises, and activators reacting to control all kind of daily functionalities in our future everyday life. But how will the architecture of our most private of all places, our home, change when all these sensors get hooked to the net and the information collected about us, placed at disposal of large companies? Companies that might use the collected information to control our consume habits. Will we have to lock ourselves in closets and let the water run in the bath to have a confidential conversation? Will there be sensor-free or even electromagnetic-free rooms in the houses? Or shall we take different roles in real life, like avatars in second life, in order not to give away our real identity when we don’t play the public role we otherwise assume? Or will the notion of privacy, as we know it, simply disappear?

The meaning of privacy for our own well-being in the future is too important to be left over only to scientists experimenting with new gadgets in “houses” or “labs” of the future financed by telecommunication companies. It needs to be tackled as a theme by architects, artists, anthropologists, journalists, lawyers and other experts to confront the public opinion with potential problems and dangers that need to be discussed and eventually submitted to the control of the public hand.

Partially Buried University

by Karen Patricia O'Rourke

Robert Smithson realized one of his first works of Land Art at Kent, Ohio in January 1970. “Partially Buried Woodshed” was an example of the process he called "entropy made visible". At the time, Smithson said he had always wanted to bury a building.For my part, I have always wanted to unearth a Smithson. He never had the time to bury other buildings. He died in a plane crash in 1973. Or did he? What if a man going by the same name were to show up here in Europe? Suppose that the University of Paris 1 invites him to realize an earthwork on its campus.

The Centre Saint Charles has a problem with rain water collecting on the roof and infiltrating the lecture hall just below. Inspired by two of Smithson's projects, “Partially Buried University” involves creating a garden on the roof terrace to absorb the residual water, reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to sustainable development. Since the roof was never intended to support the weight of growing trees and shrubs, it is likely to collapse. The garden can then develop on its own, with weeds springing up throughout the building.

A 3-D model of the roof was built, simulating weather conditions and plant growth, thanks to models developed by scientists at the ECP-INRIA. The visitor stands in front of a 3-D VR projection of the building, on the second floor overlooking the roof which has been made into a garden. She chooses a seed, moves through the garden to plant it. After a number of people have sown poplars, cypresses, pines, maples and chestnut trees, the garden grows quickly, the roof just may give way and visitors suddenly find themselves climbing over rubble in the lecture hall below.

I will document the creation of PBU from preliminary research on Smithson's conception of entropy, and the early public reception of his earthworks, to the collaborative process at work here, involving artists, scientists and developers.

Digital Media - From Entertainment to Architecture

by Bruce Ramus

This paper will centre around the emergence of digital media and video into the live entertainment world, and how that has driven and is now seen more and more in the built environment. It showcases four U2 tours I was involved with, and I'll speak of the overall principles I learned during the formtative time of this technology, and how I now apply them to digital facades and architectural space.

Metastatic Envelope

by Patrick Henri Harrop

Metastatic Envelope is a research / creation protocol interested in the expansion, magnification and amplification of sonic and visual events outside of our immediate experience yet ubiquitously present within our everyday environment. Architecture is the muse for this project: the project seeks to explore the most minute of events within the building interface. Using microscopic camera assemblies, high resolution microphones and digital video and sound processing, Metastatic Envelope probes existing structures for resonant behaviors of vibrant materials agitated by the latent behavior of seemingly inert material assemblies.

In its most common model, an architectural membrane is conceived and designed as a boundary condition between mediums. It is a built ecological condition: understood as a delicate stasis of competing and unstable milieus. The membrane is a negotiation between continuous conditions. In its broadest reaches, it is a system that is, in fact, difficult to trace: a careful reconciliation of a disparation of interruptions to the continuity of a variety of dynamic milieus: the interruption of gravity, the interruption of heat, the interruption of air, water etc. Rather than a spatial boundary, architecture is a momentary reification of a modulated interplay of the perturbed weaves of milieus. Although we tend to privilege the non-human, milieus as modulated by a building skin interface the multiplicities of social, cultural and material systems: a complex, somewhat quasi-biological edification of an ever-concretizing co structured event, performance and matter.

Rather than the tradition model of sound “control” through architectural acoustics (a term which includes sub sonic vibration as well as aural), this research / creation agenda works from Le Corbusier’s theme of “Acoustique Plastique” where architectural infrastructures are conceived of sound modulation devices rather than controllable envelopes.  

This paper will present the research / creation work currently being conducted as part of the CAST (Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology) and the Topological Media Lab research units on sound sensing and modulation and building environments by both faculty researchers and graduate students.

The Body in Digital Spaces

by Marco Cesario and Lena Hopsch

The aim of this paper is to investigate the perception of space in the context of digital architecture. Our starting point is Merleau-Ponty’s concept of flesh which represents the continuity between a perceiving body and the perceived world.

While moving in space, the body is able to incorporate direct spatial relations and make dynamic and constantly-in-movement synthesis. Models of posture are consequentially projected onto changing spatial situations by the body whose position in space is constantly updated in order to interact with the environment. The communication between the body and the world takes place through a praktognosia, a practical and direct knowledge of the world. The body’s posture is also predictive because it assumes multiple or possible tasks and acts in an oriented-space connected with an historical time. The intention of the body creates a space-time structure of here-and-now. An architectural environment convey certain spatial experiences, refines sensibility and enlarges consciousness by exploiting multiple possibilities of movement.

The perception of architectural spaces is nowadays connected with the rise of technology and virtual reality produced by computer and digital designing. In the case of computer-aided architectural design - in which the architect can manipulate visual representations - architectural spaces gain a new reality by supporting the creation of new architectural objects. In this process, the constituting elements of a building become technical networks of communicating nodes. Digital design becomes not only a way to create new objects but also supports communicative and intersubjective platforms as means of mediation between people. In the virtual context of digital architecture the body oriented space is modified and the original movement is replaced by an exploring virtual body projected by mind inside a non-Euclidean and non-orthogonal context. If architectural, urban structures are designed to experience body’s motor faculties, does digital architecture, by modifying space-time categories of the lived-body and modifying brain’s treatment of spatial perceptions, open new paths of experience ?