The design of architectural environments factors for occupant function, aesthetics, and meaning — but how often does it allow for occupant choice. One of the powerful aspects of environmental design is when the occupant narrative is designed as a real-time and ever-changing journey. That is, occupants can travel through the architectural “story”, but can also choose which directions it takes.
With the proliferation of smart spaces that are automated it is important to embed certain control points within the design system. And such control points can occur at either macro or micro scales.
The smart home will be able to do a lot by way of automated systems that assist, guide, and educate building occupants. But what happens when such guidance is wrong? How will the smart home know it needs to correct itself? As such, adaptive architecture needs to allow for occupant override — so occupants can choose their own preferences, or can cancel an action.
A more responsive architecture can help seniors not only when they may face trouble, but also when times are good — to aid them with prevention of illness or accident by helping them to live healthier. The applications are many.
By beginning to think differently about just these two aspects, you may find you begin to come up with ideas that make your architecture highly responsive and in tune with occupant needs.
We live in the age of the digital revolution. The internet seems to be everywhere — and as buildings get smarter, this will be ever more common. You see, the internet provides the ability to push and pull information, and this information can serve to connect you with your architectural spaces in new ways.
As an architect, you often have to predict occupant needs — to design built space that meets those needs with sophisticated and seamless solutions. But, what happens when an architecture is more interactive, and a need arises during an interaction sequence? Can architecture respond to a change in occupant need that happens in real-time?
Smart environments aim to help building occupants with many issues, from helping them to live healthier and happier lives, to helping them during a time of crisis. And flooring is just one way in which an architecture can observe occupant behavioral cues.
As technology becomes smaller and evermore mobile, sensors are being embedded everywhere. This means that those objects which you use every day will be able to convey data about the way they are used. Consequently, with such information coming from a multitude of objects found within the environment — a smart building can use its systems to detect patterns and form inferential decisions that impact the building’s behavior with which to engage occupants.
In the end, scientific advancements are making it possible for designers to really tap into what makes their occupants tick. And with real-time information about how your occupants are interacting, you stand in optimum position to use emerging design techniques to bring maximum value to your occupants. So, how might you do this?
If the technology that makes a place “digital” is designed as an afterthought (not well integrated into the environment) it will likely have detrimental effects. On the other hand, if the technology that makes a place digital harmonizes with the architectural design, mountains can be moved to help occupants.
Ubiquitous technology is becoming more widespread. Perhaps you can take advantage of what it can do. To do this, simply think about what change or improvement you would like to make for your occupants in real-time. Then, think about what information you would need to gather in order to make that change a reality.
With the uprising of more technologies that seem to track everything from sleep, to diet, to other behavioral patterns, environmental design is becoming more of an important player in helping to collect such clues that consequentially help make a person’s life better. Such clues reveal patterns that can be used to determine where, when, and how a person might make adjustments in their life to improve issues like their health, productivity, memory, creativity, or even to help them engage in more socially-conscious behaviors, like green living.
As you look around the world today, you will notice that not only are devices getting more interconnected, but also the people that use those devices are getting more interconnected as well. With the Internet and our increasing ability to push data onto it, you as an architect are likely beginning to wonder how such innovations are changing the way buildings function.
Ubiquitous computing is in the works and so is the smart building. From portable computing to smart devices and from calm computing to wearable computing, architecture will no longer exist as a static “frame” which surrounds activity. Instead, buildings will begin to “move” around their occupants — as if to gain a nervous system.
The hospital of the “future” is just around the corner. Already, research is being done to create an “interactive hospital” (1) — also known as a ubiquitous smart space. The first step for better hospital design is a shift in mind-set where computers need to be thought of differently — departing from the traditional “office-type” mentality.
The development of smart environments causes a lot of concern for both designers and skeptics. Both want to make sure that such innovations have great benefits that will greatly outweigh the costs. For this reason, it is important to question advancements as designers and engineers continue to research, test and develop smart environments.
Ubiquitous computing is giving architecture many benefits that we will continue to see embedded in our buildings. Ubiquitous computing is the wave of the future – providing us with many new architectural functions as well as challenges. For now, let’s focus on the benefits.
The smart environment is made up of numerous ubiquitous computing devices. They each function to sense and actuate according to a given occupant’s need. But what happens when one device contradicts the other? How can the devices cooperate so that a ubiquitous computing environment responds correctly, as a whole?
What happens to architectural design as environments become smarter? How will the user interface design of architectural features look and feel? What will happen to interior design and architecture as ubiquitous computing becomes more widespread?
Biofeedback works via the mechanisms of feedback within a system. This is when, during a process, information is given to a previous point to correct a developmental path. Feedback can be quite useful in a realm of areas, particularly when it comes to human health – as in “biofeedback”.
To view urban architecture as the result of a design process of co-creation fundamentally shifts how it can be used to bring higher levels of thrivability to citizens. By integrating citizen ideas, behaviors, and experiential insights into how such urban systems and elements adapt, the city becomes a more joyous, peaceful, healthier, and inspiring place to live. This is how urban architecture can help cities to reach these higher levels – by pulling from the wisdom and ingenuity of its citizens through its buildings, that together act as a bridge that opens communication between people and city.
Schematic design is the first stage of an architectural design project, and within this phase there are important milestones to get right that will greatly leverage the project’s results throughout the rest of its impending design phases. For example, by iteratively designing through various schematic prototypes, it becomes possible to optimize one’s design concept idea in a way that prevents future errors and expands the discovery of new design opportunities.
With the design of each built environment, it is possible to help make the world a better place for individuals, the collective, and the planet. The key is to rise as architectural designers to create poetic architecture, not mere status quo buildings. You see, it is with poetic architecture that environmental design can awaken potential to nurture the self-actualization of those it serves.