As an architect exploring the meaning and design of fluid spaces, I have been curious about the potential of VR for representing and creating ambiances—not only visualizing but also feeling and testing spatial variations/spaces of affect. In 2017 and 2018 at l’Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, I have supervised the VR-related work of two wonderful students enrolled in the Advanced Master in Design by Data: Keerthana Govindarazan (2016-17) and Bonny Nichol (2017-18). Both have been investigating how VR can be used as a design tool.
On one hand, Govindarazan developed a “rudimentary web VR system” to “user-test architectural design for behavioral patterns”. To conduct her experiment and test if behavior in VR environments were similar to expected behaviors in real life, she started by modeling a space based on an architectural principle devised by design theorist and practitioner Christopher Alexander (author of A Pattern Language, 1977):
Figure above: The time spent by the same user in each clicked location is visualized in this image for scene 1. The more time spent, the bigger the radius of the circle and the warmer the color. [Keerthana’s edited caption]
On the other hand, Nichol focuses on the concept of “attention”. She is aims at translating eye-tracking and EEG inputs captured during VR spatial experience as design data.
I have been involved in the Design by Data Advanced Master (directed by Francesco Cingolani) as a lecturer investigating with students the meaning and implication of designing “fluid spaces” and guiding them to conduct research for their computational project. I am also heading the “Art, design and knowledge” area of the advanced master.
To me, it has always been important to reflect on the ways in which technologies affect spaces and transform not only production processes but also the ways in which we relate to space and the world around us. As William J. Mitchell wrote in ME++: The cyborg self and the networked city, space has the same characteristics as the onion—“My natural skin is just layer zero of a nested boundary structure.” (Mitchell, 2003: p. 7). Every layer also connects to others and can change properties.
So it is not enough to learn how to use a software or other tool and technology, one also needs to understand which software to use and to which end, and what does it exactly do. And questions of “optimization” should not be the only ones to be taken into account when building for future generations !
I am happy I have joined the conversation with the team at l’Ecole des Ponts, the best engineering school in France, Francesco Cingolani, also co-founder of the Parisian coworking space / makerspace / food lab Volumes (Subscribe to their mailing list!) and Minh Man Nguyen, co-founder of the Woma, co-working and co-making space in Paris.
If you have any question about the advanced master, join us for breakfast March 14, 2017 :-)
Also very useful.. Twitter handle: @byDataDesign
Dk Osseo-Asare, Principal at LOW Design Office, and myself are launching the pilot project of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), thanks to Rockefeller Centennial Innovation Challenge Award funding. We are now looking for talented designers with experience in architecture, electronics and environmental systems. Find more about the project on QAMP, the blog associated to the endeavor. In support of the initiative and to open opportunities to students to get involved and learn more about the informal sector, e-waste, the maker movement and development, I am also conducting a semester-long seminar/workshop at l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture this Fall.
Excerpt from Pierre Lévy, L’intelligence collective : Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace (La Découverte, 1997): p. 64:
Bouger, ce n’est plus se déplacer d’un point à l’autre de la surface terrestre, mais traverser des univers de problèmes, des mondes vécus, des paysages de sens.
– p. 10
I am discovering. J’adore !
A diagram for a class I give at l’ESA on digital architecture based on the teaching of Antoine Picon who writes that digital culture caused architecture to enter a crisis of scale and tectonic and that architecture is seeing a renewal of ornament . The ornament versus cosmetic argument comes from a text by Jeffrey Kipnis . My interest in mobility and ecology leads me to believe that architecture is actually going beyond ornament, and that we have integrated to our digital manipulations molecular scale and structure. This is what constitute biodigital architecture. You see how both are linked. To be continued!
 Antoine Picon, Culture numérique et architecture – une introduction (Birkhäuser, 2010)
 Jeffrey Kipnis, “The Cunning of Cosmetics,” El Croquis 84 (1997): 22 – 28
Presenting the neo-nomad research to students of Tokyo Denki University next week. Will discuss about Genetically Modified Environments i.e. the impact of mobilities on the built environment and practices of the city. Thank you to Professor Yoshito Tobe, I look forward to catch-up with the Osoite project – Osoite means “address or place” in Finnish.