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Augmented Reality Give Your Building Materials New Behaviors

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © bittbox | Flickr

Who would have thought that a concrete block could be rendered invisible? Well, with the use of augmented reality technologies, just that has been achieved. By allowing sensing technologies which are capable of face-detection to act as an intermediary, the invisible concrete block system is able to tell exactly where an observer’s line of sight is, in relation to the concrete block. With that information, the system projects images of the surroundings that coincide with that observers perspective — making a concrete block render virtually invisible.

I think that such an augmented reality exhibit is quite inspiring to see because it shows how designers can push certain boundaries by combining a unique recipe between technologies, materials and their own creative talents. For instance, just imagine if within your own building design you are able to take a material that has been thought of (and physiologically perceived) in a certain way for a long time, and then create an alternate or unexpected condition by which it can be experienced. This element of “surprise” is one way for you to elicit certain occupant behaviors, memories and learning experiences.

Materials and the many behaviors which they can manifest temporally is a very interesting thing for you as an architect to explore and push. The key is to first understand how those materials are being perceived, have been perceived and how that might need to change in order to convey a certain message through your architecture. For example, the invisible concrete block might serve to create an illusion within a wall or act as an interactive three-dimensional building feature — where its chameleon abilities might be just the thing needed to create a certain lightness, transient ability and ethereal effect for a space at a particular time of day.

In the end, it is most important that you see building materials for what they are at face value, but also to never stop searching for more on what they can become. As a painter paints with paint, architects often “paint” with materials. As you watch the following video, ask yourself just how creative you can be with your materials — even with the most mundane of ones.

To get you thinking, here is the video of the invisible concrete block exhibit and how it works:



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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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