I could not even give a decent title for this post. The intention is to reflect on how we are facing the mix between new technologies and architecture. I haven’t got very clear ideas yet but I hope this post can serve to clarify certain intentions. I think it’s a relevant moment and architects we are running out of the discussion. Interactive artists, experts on ubiquitous technology and big companies are moving forward and already working on it.
In the 80’s and 90’s, the impact of computers on the discipline of architecture was mainly in the sense of aid to the design. However, in the coming decades, computers will be part of the architecture itself, allowing the configuration of systems centered on the user and not on the designer. This hybridization is already producing in many ways. The problem is that depending on who develops it (big companies, IBM, Cisco systems, interactive artists, technologists, architects, …) the efficiency parameters are very different and no in every situation the user has the priority. These are some ways that are taking place (can be given separately or together):
+ Home Automation (also called domotics). It is a set of systems able to automate a home, providing energy management services, security and comfort. We already know “smart” devices that monitor the temperature to adjust the energy output and climate comfort, guidance systems that according to the sun automate the movement of the facade, etc. This approach focuses mainly on environmental conditions.
+ Responsive architecture. As we described in the post learning home, is a step in the development of automation which allows the architecture to learn and to respond the needs of its guests. The efficiency or optimization is a clear objective in this type of projects, but depending on the parameters under which it measures there is a risk of not letting the user decide. These ideas might be interesting; however, we should be critical because could transform the user in a passive agent. For example, “blink twice and the fridge will throw you a beer” sounds amusing, but does not convince me as a target. This video explains better what I mean:
+ Connectivity. Another step which is more open since it means prioritizing user communication and connectivity between objects (Internet of things), both in the direction of inside (Ex. in the own home, office …) and outside (internet). This paradigm can result in unpredictable forms of management and use of space. It allows users to make decisions since can offer the tools and information needed to transform their environment. It is not the physical environment which transforms directly but how to use it and manage it. This video reflects a funny critique about this paradigm.
+ Free software. This classification may occur as part of the above points and is a tendency based on what the architecture can learn from computing: the way that the software is made, specifically the free software (FLOSS-Free, Free and Open Source Software.) This involves applying the rules of the free software into the design of the architecture and the city:
0. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
1. The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
2. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
3. The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
At this point the parametric architecture holds a very important factor, as Francesco says(@immaginoteca) in this post, allow transformation, distribution and adaptation of architectural projects efficiently, and therefore because of the parametric architecture the described freedoms can be applied in a real way.
 Situated technologies pamphlets 2: Urban versioning system 1.0. Matthew Fuller and Usman Haque
 Networked Publics. Edited by Kazys Varnelis.
 Arquitectura Parametrica, Participación y Cultura Libre. Francesco Cingolani.