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How to Feel the Intangible: Responsive Architecture that Pushes and Pulls Data

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

The Three Scales of Data

We are living in an age where volumes of data are getting bigger and faster. People, buildings, and things are becoming evermore connected with the evolution of the internet. In the future, as responsive architecture emerges into everyday life, new opportunities will be born — particularly as design scales shift from the individual to building, and from the building to city. The relationship between architectural buildings and the urban city environments within which they reside can unlock new functionality, aesthetic and meaning.

‍Image Credit: © alunablue | Fotolia

As responsive architecture uses data to inform its behaviors to better serve its occupants, the city will similarly use data to better serve its citizens through urban behavioral orchestrations. So the question becomes: How can data be strategically used to help all three scales — the individual scale, the building scale, and the city scale?

The beauty is that data from each of the above three scales, can be used to support, optimize, and improve design at each of the other scales. Thus, data becomes the linchpin which allows each to be empowered because of the other. For example, wearables designed for individuals can pull and push data for better responsive architectural design behaviors. Similarly, responsive buildings can pull and push data for better urban city behaviors. Also, it would even be possible for urban city data to be pushed and pulled to improve the design of wearables for individuals directly.

The Push and Pull of Data

As you can see, data is the fuel that will drive design behaviors — whether that data is about occupant patterns, nature patterns, urban patterns, or even cultural patterns. And because the data will be networked, it will be everywhere. The question becomes: How do we focus and target such data to make sure the best environmental outcomes emerge?

For starters, cities can help responsive architecture to engage in real-time beneficial behaviors. You see, the data a city uses can be used to inform a building, or even an individual’s wearable device. And when all three work together, an optimization occurs — where people are able to use data to their own advantage, in ways that enhance their lives, ultimately empowering them to uplift their life.

Timing is Critical

Data has the power to educate, protect, entertain, and even nurture health when used in the right ways. The issue is that there will be a lot of data moving very quickly — thus, it will become paramount for designs at all scales to push and pull from that data at just the right moments. And just as data can be pulled in real-time, data will also be created in real-time to be pushed to where that data is needed most.

Thus, networked data becomes an important fuel with which you can drive your designs — whether they be at the individual, building, or city scale. By learning how to push and pull data within your architecture, you will be able to expand your building design’s capabilities to renew how architecture benefits individual, collective, and planetary needs.

Feeling the Intangible

If data seems a bit intangible to you right now, remember that through design the intangible and the invisible can be felt. Use data to create environments that not only meet your occupant’s short-term needs, but also use it challenge, educate, and nurture them to overcome challenges, reach milestones, and achieve their longer-term goals.

Data used wisely through a design, can benefit individuals, communities, and cultures in ways never thought possible before. The intangible nature of rapidly flowing data can seem too invisible to use for a design. However, when you do find ways to connect and filter the right data through the right design, extraordinary benefits can be born.

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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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