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Posts in category 'Architecture'

26 June 2009

Arup Foresight – Drivers of Change

Arup Drivers of Change
Arup’s Drivers of Change initiative is an on-going research programme exploring those issues most likely to have a major impact upon society, on Arup’s business and on that of their clients.

Following the success of drivers of change 2006 publication, Arup Foresight recently published an update.

This new set of 175 cards investigates leading drivers in greater depth that have particular relevance to the work of Arup. They include energy, waste, climate change, water, demographics, urbanisation and poverty.

The cards can be used for developing business strategy, brainstorming, education and to help the reader to gain greater knowledge of the issues which are driving global change. The publication also encourages us to think holistically and creatively.

Also check out the various Arup Foresight blogs:
* future frequency
* emtech primer (by Duncan Wilson)
* global village
* foresight podcasts
* city of sound (by Dan Hill)

12 May 2009

Human-centred design for sustainable development on an urban scale

Low2No
The built environment is now the largest negative factor in the stability of ecosystems and the climate. As populations become increasingly urbanized, the evolution of cities will largely shape the outcome of our long dependence on natural resources.

Recognising the need and opportunity to improve sustainable building practices, the City of Helsinki and Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund are organising a sustainable design competition (rather than just an architecture competition) for a major urban development project.

Called Low2No (implying “low to no carbon emissions”), the competition’s goal is to attract and identify the best teams to design a large mixed-use building complex on a reclaimed harbour at the western edge of Helsinki’s central business district, that would through its exemplary nature set out a sustainable development framework applicable to other contexts.

Despite the short application time frame, a total of 73 applications were submitted. Last week, five teams were selected from a very competitive pool of proposals to proceed to the design phase of the competition.

One of the shortlisted teams is led by the global design and engineering firm Arup, in partnership with the international architecture and urban planning agency Sauerbruch Hutton, and Experientia, the experience design company that this blog is part of.

Arup is highly regarded for its many top-level projects, but also for its philosophy and culture of engineering – and in our field for the many important contributions by Dan Hill at conferences and on his famous cityofsound blog, whereas Sauerbruch Hutton is well-known for the design of the German Federal Environment Agency.

Needless to say that we are very proud to be in such excellent company, and to be the only experience design consultancy in the shortlist.

The five teams are now working on the development of “a design strategy and approach suitable to the challenge, a framework for developing an indicator of sustainability suitable to the challenge, and a vision for the project that will inspire stakeholders to overcome the challenges of systemic change”.

The jury “will be instructed to evaluate the proposals based on evidence of systemic thinking. More than a design, we are look-
ing for a credible strategic framework for change, and the principals upon which the framework was built.”

Experientia will be taking a human-centred angle in its partnership with Arup and Sauerbruch Hutton, emphasising the fundamental impact that people’s behaviours can have on sustainability. Although we cannot disclose too much (the competition is still going on), we will surely be exploring a full plethora of research and design approaches, from ethnographic research to interaction design, and from service design to strategic communications. It will definitely be a great challenge for us to test and prove the fundamental role of a human-centred perspective in this pivotal project.

19 March 2009

Good design at Metropolis

Good Design
The March issue of Metropolis is focused on products with the theme of Good Design.

Several articles are fitting quite well with the topic of this blog:

What is good design?
By Peter Hall
The 20th-century definition of “good design” was driven primarily by form. Today the stakes are too high, and the world too complex, for a superficial response.

Good Is Sustainable (“Bending the Reeds” by Julie Taraska)
Good Is Accessible (“Updating a Workhorse”, an article on the Perkins Brailler by Kristi Cameron)
Good Is Functional (“Redefining Design” by Jennifer Kabat)
Good Is Well Made (“In Praise of the Supernormal”, Paul Makovsky interviews Jasper Morrison)
Good Is Emotionally Resonant (“Selective Memories”, Donald Norman on creating an evocative user experience)
Good Is Enduring (“Mari on Mari”, a profile on Enzo Mari by Martin C. Pedersen)
Good Is Socially Beneficial (“Products For a New Age”, Ken Shulman on how to deal with the world’s most vexing problems)
Good Is Beautiful (“Empty Promise”, a profile of Muji by Mason Currey)
Good Is Ergonomic (“A Call to Arms”, Suzanne LaBarre on the design of prosthetics)
Good Is Affordable (“Banal Genius”, Paul Makovsky on Sam Hecht’s intriguing Under a Fiver collection)

The New Reality
- Motor City Blues (Michael Silverberg on the Detroit three)
- Graduating Class (students completing ten top industrial-design programs talk about their career plans)
- Surviving the Storm (Belinda Lanks on how retailers look for new ways to attract shoppers in a hostile business climate)

Within the Product of No Product
By John Hockenberry
What are the implications for industrial designers if the strongest consumer impulse becomes not buying?

Product Panic: 2009
By Bruce Sterling
What’s an industrial designer to do in the midst of economic chaos? Our columnist offers some career advice.

Rekindling the Book
By Karrie Jacobs
Can Amazon’s new digital reader do for print what the iPod did for music?

(via Designing for Humans)

1 March 2009

Carlo Ratti, Dan Hill and Anne Galloway on the ‘long here’ at LIFT09

LIFT 2009
One of the best sessions of the entire LIFT conference took place on Thursday afternoon.

As half of the world is now living in cities, it’s undeniable that the recombination of our physical environment through technological advancements will lead to unexpected changes, problems but also new opportunities. Carlo Ratti, Dan Hill and Anne Galloway discussed how our relationship to space will change through various new technologies and examine the main challenges of this field.

Note: this post contains embedded video which might now not show up in your rss feed.

Carlo Ratti

An architect, engineer and agit-prop, Carlo Ratti (wikipedia) practices in Torino, Italy, and teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, where he directs the SENSEable City Laboratory.

The digital layer didn’t really kill the physical layer. They combined. Bits and data are coming together to provide new types of experiences in urban space. The challenge is to provide new ways of sense making by getting rid of all the information we don’t need.

To illustrate the point of information visualisation, Carlo showed a lot of work that has taken place at the SENSEable City Lab.
- Cellphone activity during the World Cup Final in Rome
- Real Time Rome
- The world’s eyes (based on Flickr location data)
- globe encounters
- the world inside new york
- Digital Water Pavilion for Zaragoza 2008

Dan Hill

(Note that the above video is actually in English, and not in French).

Dan Hill (blog) has been working at the forefront of innovative information and communication technologies (ICT) since the early ‘90s. He was one of the key architects of a BBC redesigned for the on-demand media age, launched Monocle magazine, organised the architecture and urbanism conference, Postopolis, in New York, and runs City of Sound, generally acclaimed as one of the leading architecture and urbanism websites. For Arup, Dan is helping clients explore the possibilities of ICT from a creative, design-led perspective, re-thinking how information changes streets and cities, neighbourhoods and organisations, mobility and work, play and public space.

Dan started off his talk “soft infrastructure” with a particularly vivid example of soft infrastructure attacking, i.e. not behaving as it should be, as he spent four days getting from Australia to Zurich.

It may not matter how good the hard infrastructure is, it is the soft infrastructure that affects how you feel, what the experience is like.

At ARUP, a hardcore engineering firm, Dan deals with interaction design, software design, IA, service design, looking at the wider context of the organisation, systems and people, urban design, urban informatics. But not only.

Soft infrastructure is also about business models, the legal and political context, the belief systems and the social and cultural fabric.

Dan then takes a step back and showed the movie “The City”, the Regional Planning Association of America’s plea for community chaotic cities and urban sprawl (watch it here: part 1 and part 2).

Another example of that mindset is the book New Movement in Cities (1966, featuring several pre-Archigram diagrams from Warren Chalk, Ron Herron and Dennis Crompton) that shows a city of arteries and tubes, and a clip from the magisterial 1963 film Hands Over the City, directed by Francesco Rosi.

What happened?
Why didn’t these visions of the future turn out differently?

People happened, not technology.
Social, cultural and political belief systems changed.
Industry moved out of cities, and finance moved in.
And the leisure society didn’t happen at all.
The city became valued by pocket calculators (something to slice and dice).

Soft infrastructure gives us a few possibilities though, and one of them is the possibility to bend the physical city, e.g. through informational approaches to transit (examples are MIT’s City Car project and the Volkswagen 2028 project).

Both these projects are based on freedom and availability, but not on ownership.

The city of the future is the walking city, the biking city – with human-scaled, walkable urbanism, augmented with informatics.

These interventions – e.g. bikesharing – change how the city feels without changing the physical infrastructure. Other ways of doing this is by providing people with real-time information about their city.

This makes you feel as if you are in control of the transit network and not the other way around, and pulls the transit network back down to the level of people.

Another change that informatics is bringing about is that work is becoming invisible. You don’t know anymore what knowledge workers are working on. So how can we make this invisible work visible again?

The latent promise of informatics is that things can indeed change in response to information, and we need to use user-centred design techniques in this context.

Read also this excellent post-talk reflection by Dan, which contains several of the videos he presented.
 

Anne Galloway

There is no video of the talk (yet) by Anne Galloway, which is too bad, because she is quite an engaging speaker and my notes are not too great.

Anne Galloway (site | blog) who teaches design and computation arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, recently completed a PhD in sociology and anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, which involved an ethnographic study of the design of mobile and pervasive technologies for urban environments. Interested in connections between technological, spatial and cultural practices, Anne’s current research explores how actor-network theory and critiques of everyday life can help people understand and shape emergent technologies.

When envisioning the future city, we also have to address people’s expectations, promises and hopes. These however are not qualities we have, but actions we do. We expect. We promise. We hope.

They make some futures and not others.
They guide our activities and provide structure & legitimation.
They attract interest and foster investment.
They define roles & clarify duties.
They offer visions of how to prepare for opportunities and risks.
They mobilise resources at global, national, institutional and individual levels.
They warrant the production of measurements, calculations and models.
They broker relationships between different people & groups.
They build mutually binding, obligations and groups.

What if we imagine the future city as a gift we want to give people?

Gifts are powerful, but gifting is tricky business.

The gift
- what is the relationship between the giver and the receiver?
- what can each expect of the other?
- how do you know she evens wants your gift?

Gifting
- how will you know if he appreciates your gift?
- what will you do if she dislikes your gift?
- how will you act if he misuses your gift?
Have you ever gotten a great gift you didn’t use?

Now let’s think again about gifted cities. Cities that provide us with ‘interesting information’ and feedback loops, for free, for us to use.

But what am I going to do with that?
What are we going to do with these presents?

Citizens, the argument goes, can use these data to take political action, to better map the environment around them.

But this requires first of all that we want to be data collectors and that we have the ability to make sense of the data we collect.

The new urban citizen in other words creates “gifted risks”
- when active citizenship requires access to technology, people without access effectively become non-citizens.
- when scientific data are the most appropriate types of evidence a citizen can collect, political action relies on conformity to existing structure of knowledge and power.

So in conclusion, when you are building the new city,
- what kind of future city do you hope to give?
- what kind of city do you hope to receive?

13 February 2009

Kazys Varnelis’ new book on network culture

Kazys Varnelis
Kazys Varnelis [CV | blog], the author of Networked Publics and the Director of the Network Architecture Lab at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, is writing a new book and posting drafts online.

“My current research project—already well underway—is a book that sets out to synthesize a historical understanding of our era, coming to terms with the changed conditions in culture, subjectivity, ideology, and aesthetics that characterize our new, networked age. I explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather unites changes in society, economy, aesthetics, and ideology.

Just as the machine made modern industrialization possible and also acted as a model for a rationalized, compartmentalized modern society while the programmable computer served the same role for the flexible socioeconomic milieu of postmodernism, today the network not only connects the world, it reconfigures our relationship to it. In this book I will argue that many of the key tenets of culture since the Enlightenment: the subject, the novel, the public sphere, are being radically reshaped.”

Read full story

(via Bruce Sterling)

31 January 2009

W3C workshop on the future of social networking

W3C
A few weeks ago, W3C, the body in charge of global web standards directed by Tim Berners-Lee, organised a Workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona, with a high level goal of bringing together the world experts on social networking design, management and operation in a neutral and objective environment where the social networking history to date could be examined and discussed, the risks and opportunities analysed and the state of affairs accurately portrayed.

Within the W3C workshop, the issues facing social networking growth could be documented and, in this workshop in particular, taking into account social networking on mobile devices/platforms with and without PC/broadband Internet services.

The workshop also explored whether it is worthwhile to consider the creation of an Interest or Working Group under the auspices of W3C to continue these discussions.

The discussions of the workshop were fed by the input of the 72 (!) position papers submitted by the participants, and animated by the Program Committee composed of experts from the industry and academics on this topic.

Companies that submitted papers include Atos Origin, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft, Opera, Samsung Electronics, SUN, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone, Yahoo!, and YouTube, so the papers section definitely requires a quick scan. You can read the brief summaries by Libby Miller on each of them.

You can also read rough minutes of Day 1 and Day 2 of the workshop, download the slides of the various presentations (linked from the agenda) and watch videos of some of the sessions.

In a short article, the New Scientist focuses on one of the papers on the potency of mobile social networking in developing market economies (with the great subtitle: “The Revolution will be ‘mobil’-ised”), written by South Africa-based mobile social media consultant Gloria Ruhrmund.:

Western consumers are becoming used to the idea that the computing power of their phone is catching up with what is traditionally expected from a computer. But in Africa and some other poor regions it is phones that have all the computing power – mobile handsets far outnumber PCs and broadband connections.

As a result, innovative new uses of mobile connectivity are appearing in those developing areas first, possibly providing a glimpse of what the future holds for cellphone users in richer countries.

9 December 2008

The Situated Technologies project

Too smart city
A year ago I wrote about Adam Greenfield’s pamphlet Urban computing and its discontents.

Adam’s pamphlet was the firsts in a nine-part series that aims to explore the implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism: How are our experience of the city and the choices we make in it affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics, and other “situated” technologies? How will the ability to design increasingly responsive environments alter the ways we conceive of space? What do architects need to know about urban computing, and what do technologists need to know about cities? How are these issues themselves situated within larger social, cultural, environmental, and political concerns?

Two other pamphlets have been published meanwhile:

Urban Versioning System 1.0
by Matthew Fuller and Usman Haque
What lessons can architecture learn from software development, and more specifically, from the Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement? Written in the form of a quasi-license, Urban Versioning System 1.0 posits seven constraints that, if followed, will contribute to an open source urbanism that radically challenges the conventional ways in which cities are constructed.

Situated Advocacy
A special double issue featuring the essays “Community Wireless Networks as Situated Advocacy” by Laura Forlano and Dharma Dailey, and “Suspicious Images, Latent Interfaces” by Benjamin Bratton and Natalie Jeremijenko.

They are part of Situated Technologies, a project by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard, is a co-production of the Center for Virtual Architecture, The Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC), and the Architectural League of New York.

The project also organised a symposium and is planning a major exhibition in September 2009.

Architecture and Situated Technologies was a 3-day symposium in October 2006 that brought together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of “situated” technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary city.

Participants at the symposium featured Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Richard Coyne, Michael Fox, Karmen Franinovic, Anne Galloway, Charlie Gere, Usman Haque, Peter Hasdell, Natalie Jeremijenko, Sheila Kennedy, Eric Paulos, and Kazys Varnelis. Videos are available online.

Situated Technologies: Toward the Sentient City is a major exhibition, curated by Mark Shepard and organized by the Architectural League of New York, that will imagine alternative trajectories for how various mobile, embedded, networked, and distributed forms of media, information and communication systems might inform the architecture of urban space and/or influence our behavior within it. It will examine the broader social, cultural, environmental and political issues within which the development of urban ubiquitous/pervasive computing is itself situated.

The exhibition will combine a survey of recent work that explores a wide range of context-aware, location-based and otherwise “situated” technologies with a series of commissioned projects by multi-disciplinary teams of architects and artists, including:

  • Too Smart City by Joo Youn Paek (artist and interaction designer, artist in residence, LMCC) and David Jimison (founder Mobile Technologies Group, Georgia Tech and Honorary Fellow, Eyebeam)
  • BREAKOUT! Escape from the Office by Anthony Townsend (research director, Technology Horizons Program, Institute for the Future), Tony Bacigalupo (co-founder, CooperBricolage), Georgia Borden (associate director, DEGW), Dennis Crowley (founder dodgeball.com), Laura Forlano (Kauffman Fellow in Law, Information Society Project, Yale Law School), Sean Savage (co-founder, PariSoMa) and Dana Spiegel (executive director, NYCwireless)
  • Natural Fuse by Haque Design + Research (led by Usman Haque)
  • Trash Track by MIT’s SENSEable City Lab (led by Carlo Ratti)
  • Amphibious Architecture by David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang (architects and co-directors, Living Architecture Lab, Columbia University), and Natalie Jeremijenko (artist, director, xdesign Environmental Health Clinic, New York University)

(via Fabien Girardin)

16 October 2008

ArchiTech’s special section on experience desin

ArchiTech
The September edition of the American architecture magazine ArchiTech contains a special section on experience design.

The section, which sees experience design as “a new way of thinking, designing, engaging that uses media and architecture to produce immersive spaces”, is I think quite problematic. Experience design is all about entertainment and communications. Nothing really about addressing people’s needs or providing relevant contextual solutions. Nor does the section contain much about interaction design, or about the relation between people’s use of technology (e.g. through mobile devices) and the architectural environments that surround them. More innovative, experimental projects that are redefining architecture through their reinterpretation of the relation between people and the built environment are not even mentioned.

Although it’s a take on experience design which I don’t endorse or care much about, it is one which is quite prevalent, and therefore worth mentioning. The section contains three articles:

Building fiction: the architecture of experience design
by Tali Krakowsky, director of experience design at Imaginary Forces, a multidisciplinary entertainment and design agency based in Hollywood and New York
“Architecture has always been the home of storytelling. [...] By infusing architecture with digital media, the discipline of experience design hopes to transform static environments into kinetic, cinematic, informative, and interactive spaces that offer an endless anthology of stories. [...] Experience design is the process of creating such storytelling in space.”

Experience as material: transforming architecture into communications media
by Don Richards, creative director at Foghorn Creative, a San Francisco-based company that provides creative direction and coordination for immersive communications projects worldwide
“The tools we have today in show production and immersive communications are simply phenomenal. There is no longer even a clear distinction between R&D and implementation. We write code and modify gear on-site to respond to opportunities. The digital display tools that architects are using today (such as LED display, digital playback, and pixel mapping) all evolved from technologies initially developed for theatrical and entertainment design.”

Convergence: blending the digital and physical
by Jesse Seppi and Vivian Rosenthal, founders of Tronic, a New York City-based design, directing, and animation studio
“The intersection of digital and physical design opens up new realities of form and experience. Whereas in the past the digital process was merely a means to represent a structure, today’s digital tools now inform the architecture itself, allowing for innovation and experimentation in the built form.”

(via Stephen Rustow at SRA Consultancy)

7 September 2008

The Adaptive City, an essay by Dan Hill

Men watching data
The Adaptive City is the title of an excellent essay by Dan Hill on recent ideas around urban informatics and urban information design, the impact of real-time data and collaborative planning on urban form, and most of all the changing role and new empowerment of people living in these cities. In Hill’s words: cities as an user interface for governance, in which [citizens] play an intrinsic role.

“However, these urban informatics do become manifest in the built fabric nonetheless; they have a potential physical presence, as the model is only partly concerned with drawing data from the city. It also feeds it back. Urban information design emerges in a call-and-response relationship with informatics, filtering and describing these patterns for the benefit of citizens and machines.

The invisible becomes visible, as the impact of people on their urban environment can be understood in real-time. Citizens turn off taps earlier, watching their water use patterns improve immediately. Buildings can share resources across differing peaks in their energy and resource loading. Road systems can funnel traffic via speed limits and traffic signals in order to route around congestion. Citizens take public transport rather than private where possible, as the real-time road pricing makes the true cost of private car usage quite evident. The presence of mates in a bar nearby alerts others to their proximity, irrespective of traditional spatial boundaries. Citizens can not only explore proposed designs for their environment, but now have a shared platform for proposing their own. They can plug in their own data sources, effectively hacking the model by augmenting or processing the feeds they’re concerned with.

If a group of interested parents suspect that a small playground added to the corner of their block might improve the health of their kids, with knock-ons for nearby educational facilities, cafés and the natural safety of a more active street, they can wrangle these previously indiscernible causal relationships into a prototype and test their new designs, garnering the requisite public engagement along the way.

Everyday design could become a conversation within social software networks, and citizens have data and tools that urban designers can only dream of. In fact, professional urban designers have this data too, and thus their practice is transformed.” [...]

“The new technologies of urban informatics and city information modelling enable citizens to reflect on their city, engage in the design, adapt their behaviour and the city around them. It could well lead to a new understanding and a new respect, and so to a new city.”

Dan Hill is a senior consultant at the renowned and highly innovative engineering firm Arup. Prior to that, he was the director of web and broadcast at Monocle and the head of interactive technology and design at the BBC.

The essay will be published in the exhibition catalogue for Urban Play, a project Scott Burnham conceived and then developed with Droog Design.

25 August 2008

A treatment room with a view

Treatment
In “A Treatment Room With a View”, the Wall Street Journal covers patient-centred efforts in health care.

“Submitting to chemotherapy, radiation treatments, MRIs, CT scans and the like can be bad enough. But often, dreary, windowless rooms and corridors only worsen the experience.

Now, some institutions hope that by making these areas more appealing, they can ease patients’ stress, fear and feelings of helplessness, and perhaps influence a patient’s outcome for the better. [...]

Many of the innovations stem from the nascent field of “evidence-based design,” which ties design decisions to research on how the physical environment can influence well-being and promote healing. That includes practical design elements meant to improve safety, as well as the use of purely aesthetic features such as waterfalls, gardens and artwork.”

Read full story

via Mark Hurst

4 July 2008

From ubiquitous technology to human context (videos)

UIA World Congress of Architecture
On Wednesday 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) moderated a session at the World Congress of Architecture in Turin, Italy, entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”.

Speakers were Adam Greenfield (Head of Design Direction, Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Director, Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (senior design manager, Nokia).

Videos: About ten minutes into the session, I realised that no provisions had been made by the organisers to videotape the presentations, so I started recording everything myself, from a small handheld Nokia N95. Obviously image quality is not so great but the sound is quite good. I uploaded everything on Google Video: Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang and Younghee Jung.

Two apologies: first to Nicolas for not having taped his session too – as I said, I realised too late that the organisers were not doing it themselves – but luckily Nicolas has posted a summary and his slides on his own blog. The second apology goes to Younghee, whose presentation is only half recorded, because the N95 battery died.

The session unfortunately ended a bit in chaos. As it had started late, it also ran a bit over time and people from the next session started filling up the seminar room and at one point hackled the last speaker – Younghee Jung – to finish things up. A fragile Younghee – during her talk she shared a personal event with the audience that was very close to her emotionally – suddenly had to summarise 30 slides in 2 minutes and this is luckily not on video. Perhaps she can send us her presentation still.

6 June 2008

Hurdle for future cities: human habits

Masdar
The Christian Science Monitor published an interesting article that voices scepticism on whether the planned carbon-neutral city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi could indeed become a sustainable urban innovation model globally:

“The project has done little to impress green city planners not connected with the venture. A utopia spawned by petro-dollars is not a practical solution to real-world emissions problems, they say. Current cities must address political and social concerns that are irrelevant to the UAE experiment.”

More relevant to the theme of this blog, the article also underlines local cultural problems:

“While Masdar has ignited curiosity beyond the nation’s borders, it has elicited limited enthusiasm from a key audience: locals. For many Abu Dhabians, the concerns range from weak air conditioning to limited access to automobiles – car culture is deeply entrenched in the UAE.” [...]

“The first fundamental thing in urban design is about people. Why would people want to be here?“ says William Mitchell, a professor of architecture and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Smart Cities project in Cambridge, Mass. “It’s not so much the technology and the organization of infrastructure and systems, although those ultimately become very important things.”

Read full story

5 June 2008

One month to go to the World Congress of Architecture

UIA World Congress of Architecture
In a month’s time Turin, Italy will host the XXIII edition of the World Congress of Architecture, promoted by the UIA (International Union of Architects).

More than 4000 participants have registered already. There are over 70 sessions with more than 360 speakers.

The topic chosen for the 2008 congress is “Transmitting Architecture“, or as the organisers say “the strength and ability architecture has of expressing and communicating values, feelings and diverse cultures through time.”

For Leopoldo Freyrie, General Speaker of the Torino 2008 UIA congress, this also indicates the desire and will to bring architecture out of a sort of isolation in which buildings and even gorgeous solutions are designed without any real connection to surrounding reality.

In fact during the press conference today Freyrie was quite adamant about the social and ethical role of the congress, which according to him had a duty to confront the major environmental, social, demographic, economic and migration challenges our planet is facing and that are often so concentrated in its urban environments.

We concur.

The three days dedicated to the congress themes are planned to include the following contents:

  • June 30th 2008, CULTURE, the project’s culture, talent and training, history and the Past, the transmission and protection of the architectural heritage, restoration.
  • July 1st 2008, DEMOCRACY, the construction of an urban democracy in the Present, participation, the decision-making process, the territory’s transformation, communication and mediation.
  • July 2nd 2008, HOPE, environmental sustainability and safeguard as ethical duty of architects, the search for a Future with a still inhabitable world, technological innovation.

One session will be of particular interest to readers of this blog: on 2 July Nicolas Nova (LIFT lab) will be moderator of a session entitled “From ubiquitous technology to human context – Technology applied to architecture and design: does it solve problems or create needs?”. Invited speakers are Adam Greenfield (Nokia), Jeffrey Huang (Media and Design Laboratory, EPFL, Switzerland) and Younghee Jung (Nokia).

A very nice gesture is the low-cost registration: 100 euros for professionals and 50 for students.

- Read today’s press release (Word document)
- Consult the programme

4 June 2008

Off Congress, an impressive series of events on design and architecture in Turin, Italy

Off Congress
If you are considering coming to Turin, Italy this year, you may want to come at the end of June and/or the beginning of July.

Not only is that the time when two important conferences — the World Congress of Architecture and the Changing the Change conference — will take place, but there is also an impressive series of events planned, organised by the local Order of Architects under the banner “Off Congress“.

Nearly 40 exhibitions are bound to open in the weeks to come. Many of those are organised by Turin based institutions, including a series of blockbuster shows on Guarini, Juvarra, Antonelli, the architects who were responsible for the Baroque Turin; a preview of the Carlo Mollino mountain refuge project; an exhibition with more than 200 objects from the private collection of Alexander von Vegesack, founder and director of the Vitra Design Museum; several pavillions that are thematically linked to the World Congress; an exhibition in a spectacular 19th Century location about the physical, social and economic changes Turin has undergone from the 1980s to date; and a VR installation permitting renewed enjoyment of the Poème électronique, a unique experience conceived by Le Corbusier for the Philips pavilion at the International Exhibition in Brussels in 1958.

Also foreign institutions have grasped the opportunity offered by the World Congress of Architecture to organise exhibitions in Turin, such as the Tsinghua University Architecture School in China, the BDA Galerie Berlin, the Japan Institute of Architects, the Moscow Contemporary Architecture Center, the Bundesarchitektenkammer (BAK) of Germany, the Slovak Architects Association, the World Architecture Community (with a focus on Turkey), the Union of Mediterranean Architects, the Association pour la Recherche sur la Ville et l’Habitat, and the Empresa Municipal Vivienda y suelo of Madrid, Spain.

Turin’s contemporary art galleries (and there are many) have planned special shows, featuring artists such as Michael Beutler, Peter Halley, Donna Conlon, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Karim Rashid.

And there are a great number of events, from theatre to parties, from book presentations, to mini-conferences, and of course there is also The Starchitecture Night.

12 May 2008

May/June edition of Interactions Magazine

Interactions
The May/June issue of Interactions Magazine just came out and some of the content is available online (and more will follow soon).

The issue is all about “colliding worlds” with “interactions disciplines” becoming “more appropriately integrated into other creative disciplines (e.g. architecture and music), into business, and into the new business models that will shape the 21st and 22nd centuries,” as described by the editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko in their editorial.

It also features contributions by Allison Arieff (Sunset), Eli Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Shunying Blevis (Indiana University at Bloomington), Benjamin H. Bratton, Valerie Casey (IDEO), Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo! Research), Dave Cronin (Cooper), Allison Druin (Human-Computer Interaction Lab), Hugh Dubberly, Shelley Evenson (Carnegie Mellon University), Jonathan Grudin (Microsoft Adaptive Systems and Interaction group), Zhiwei Guo (Adobe Systems Inc.), John Hopson (Microsoft’s Games User Research group), Steve Howard (University of Melbourne), Tuck Leong (University of Melbourne), Zhengjie Liu Dalian Marine University), Bob Moore, Donald Norman, Steve Portigal, Scott Palmer (University of Leeds), Sita Popat (University of Leeds), Kai Qian, Laura Seargeant Richardson (M3 Design Inc.), Richard Seymour (Seymourpowell), Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), Huiling Wei, and Ning Zhang (Dalian Marine University)

Interactions Magazine is the bimonthly publication of the ACM [Association of Computing Machinery] and is distributed to all members of SIGCHI [Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction].

It recently underwent a complete makeover the inspiring and volunteer (!) leadership of Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko who turned it into a publication full of timely articles, stories and content related to the interactions between experiences, people, and technology — the must have magazine for the user experience community!

25 March 2008

Trying to register for the World Congress of Architecture

UIA World Congress logo
In a few months, Turin will host the World Congress of Architecture, the top architecture event in the world.

They have an interesting programme, with some speakers I really like. They are called “Relatori” on their English website, which non-Italians should obviously know means “Speakers”. A small detail, of course, because they got names like Peter Eisenman, Massimiliano Fuksas, Adam Greenfield, Jeffrey Huang, Nicolas Nova, Dominique Perrault, Renzo Piano, and Hani Rashid. To name just a few.

Registration is cheap. 100 euro. So I want to go. But then the trouble starts.

First you go to the website where any button “Registration” is missing. OK, you find out that it’s actually called “Participation”.
Then you have to create a personal account. Of course, I completely forgot that I had done this months ago to receive a newsletter. So I got an Italian language error message – on the English site of an international event – when I entered my normal email address.
Next step: a whole bunch of personal information. To enter your company name however, you have to hit a radio button which I of course missed. So I entered my information as an individual, and clicked “Update data”, which didn’t do much more than refresh the screen with the data I just entered.
Hmmm. What now? The left side menu has 16 clickable menu options. I click the most obvious one: “Registration and Payment”.
Wrong, of course. I arrive at a huge screen with lots of information. None of which I need.
At the bottom of that screen: “Go to subscription”. I click that.
New screen: “Add partecipants” (That’s the spelling!).
But I registered as an individual! Not as a company. I just added all my individual information and don’t want to add another “partecipant”.
This is clearly not a good choice. Next one up: “Your registered members”. Interesting! I am curious what the membership of an individual might mean. But I have no choice. So I click that.
Now the system says that I have no registered members. Strange: I just registered!
Maybe it’s a good thing. I don’t want “members” of myself anyhow. I just want to register. Please let me pay my 100 euros.
So I click on “Proceed to payment”.
Back to the huge screen with lots of information that I don’t need.

This is getting terribly irritating.

I guess the system requires me to be a “registered member” of myself. So now I have to register even more personal data, such as my identity card or passport number. I also need to select a country (not sure which one: country of citizenship or country where I live). I choose Italy. Now I also need to select which “Professional bodies of architect” (sic) I am from. It’s obligatory. But what comes up is a bit baffling: a list of Italian provinces and the word “Nessuno” which I know to mean “None”. Good luck, German or American! Perhaps, I was just stupid enough to list Italy as my country of residence.

Once I have done gone through all of that (remember that I registered as an individual), the system asks me again to “add partecipants”. Yes, I know: the spelling. I don’t want to “add partecipants” anyhow.

By now, I figured out that this stupid system requires me again to click on “Registered members” in the left menu, and discover that I am now a registered member of myself.

But how can I pay? It’s baffling. I managed to figure it out this afternoon — after 20 minutes of deep frustration. Now I tried again in order to write this post, using a different email address, but for the life of me, I can’t find the solution anymore. I CAN’T PAY. I have no clue at all anymore on how to do it.

The procedure I managed to find this afternoon has disappeared. I remembered that I somehow found a check box next to my name, which was the key to get into the actual payment system, but that’s gone now.

Guys, this is hopeless. How can you manage an international congress this way? And an interesting one at that! Your registration process is horrible. HORRIBLE! No wonder you have so few registrations. YOU HAVE TO FIX THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!

In short, I am more than just a little angry.

(And can someone now remove my duplicate pre-registration, so that I don’t get all your emails twice?).

27 December 2007

Torino heading towards 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011

I Love To
Torino, Italy officially opens the World Design Year next week with an extraordinary New Year’s Eve, organised specially to celebrate Torino 2008 World Design Capital.

The centre of events for 31 December 2007 is Piazza Castello [the "Castle Square"], the Baroque heart of the city, seen on TV screens worldwide as the “Medals Plaza” of the XX Olympic Winter Games of 2006.

The New Year Eve’s activities contain a lot of interaction design with Luminous LEDs, Shining microvideos, and Interactive balls, plus of course the live music and the DJ’s.

Aside from the many events planned during the first World Design Capital in 2008 — with quite a few requiring your participation — keep also an eye open for what’s coming up in the following years:

2008 – UIA World Congress of Architecture (29 June – 3 July)
For the first time an Italian city hosts a World Congress of the International Union of Architects. Torino will be the location of this prestigious event which every three years reunites thousands of professionals and students to cover a theme analysing the future prospects of the profession and its relationship with the social and cultural problems of the moment. The theme chosen for the event in 2008 is Transmitting Architecture.

2009 is dedicated to sports with the European Athletics Indoor Championships (6-8 March) and the World Air Games (7-13 June).

2010 – Euroscience City (2-7 July)
The EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is Europe’s most important interdisciplinary forum for presentation and debate of leading scientific trends and key science policy issues. It brings Europe’s science community together to discuss the social and economic impact of science, technology, the social sciences and humanities. The event is promoted by Euroscience, an organisation that includes scientists from 40 European countries.

2011 – Italy 150 (17 March – 31 October)
In 2011 Italy will celebrate its 150th birthday as a united nation: an opportunity to look back of course but also to debate what future should Italy be aiming at (a hot topic also in the international press – see The New York Times and The Times). Many of the planned events will take place in Torino, Italy’s first capital. The slogan: “Experience Italy” !

17 December 2007

A designer at the intersection of physical architecture and information systems

Jeffrey Huang
Bruno Giussani posted his running notes of Jeffrey Huang’s inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“Architecture and design, says my friend Jeffrey Huang (photo), are becoming the interface between physical and virtual lives. And that’s his field of study: how can constructs (buildings, cities and landscapes) incorporate digital communication systems? What are the effects of digitization on the typologies of cities today?

Last week, professor Huang — who among other things was instrumental in creating the Swiss House in Boston, now called Swissnex — gave his inaugural lesson at EPFL, the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he runs the Media and Design Lab (he was previously at the Harvard School of Design). Here my running notes.”

Read full story

5 December 2007

Urban computing and its discontents

Urban Computing
A conversation between the authors Adam Greenfield and Mark Shepard provides an overview of the key issues, historical precedents, and contemporary approaches to designing situated technologies and inhabiting cities populated by them.

“The Situated Technologies Pamphlet series explores the implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism: How is our experience of the city and the choices we make in it affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics, and other “situated” technologies? How will the ability to design increasingly responsive environments alter the way architects conceive of space? What do architects need to know about urban computing and what do technologists need to know about cities? Situated Technologies Pamphlets will be published in nine issues and will be edited by a rotating list of leading researchers and practitioners from architecture, art, philosophy of technology, comparative media study, performance studies, and engineering.”

Read pamphlet

(via Régine Debatty)

30 November 2007

InterSections 07: a debate on design

Intersections
The UK Design Council sponsored conference InterSections 07 brought together 34 leading thinkers in design to consider how design is evolving and how this is affecting its relationships with other fields.

The conference, held in NewcastleGateshead in October 2007, asked how design is transforming as it adapts to a world in transition. Two days of stimulating and energetic debate considered how designers are adapting to the new landscape by acquiring new know-how.

Audio and transcripts are now online and feature a series of keynote presentations:

as well as panel discussions and breakout sessions:

  • What is the new know-how in service design? (audio | transcript)
    Services have been around for centuries, but Service design has recently become a hot topic. Designers Gillian Crampton-Smith (IUAV), Chris Downs (live|work) and Heather Martin (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design) outline some examples of good, and bad, service design and discuss what the core skills of service designers are whether traditional designer notions such as craft, beauty and visualisation are still important. Jeremy Myerson (RCA) moderates.
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  • As designers, are we guilty of killing the planet? (audio | transcript)
    John Thackara (Dott07) will argue that 80 percent of the environmental impact of the products and buildings is determined at the design stage; and the ways we have designed the world force most people to waste stupendous quantities of matter and energy. But for John, playing the blame game is pointless, the best way to redeem ourselves is to become part of the solution.
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  • Clever by design (audio | transcript)
    Where does design fit into management thinking? What is the role of the designer in the modern economy? Sir George Cox, Design Council Chairman and Dr Andrea Siodmok, head of its Design Knowledge team discuss with chair Jeremy Myerson whether businesses are making more use of design capability and, if so, whether designers have the right skills to talk to business.
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  • New connections: question time (audio | transcript)
    At the final panel session of Intersections 07, delegates had the chance to put questions to the panel (Peter Saville, Richard Seymour and John Thackara), ranging from the lack of women in design, to the role of designers in creating unnecessary landfill, and how best to reconcile the desire for visionary design with co-creation. This session draws together some of the key themes from the conference.
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  • Fashion connections (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson, Editor of Blueprint magazine, Ignacio Germade, Design Director of Consumer Experience Design at Motorola, Sarah Maynard, Designer and MD of Maynard Bespoke and Tom Savigar from Future Laboratory discuss the influence of fashion on wider design practice. They argue that fashion is not just about the type of things that designers create, but it can be an approach to design thinking about products, interactions, space and environments.
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  • Interaction blur (audio | transcript)
    How is interaction design changing and what the drivers behind this? Has it managed to develop the skill sets it needs to deal with the challenges ahead? And how does interaction design overlap with other design disciplines? Andy Altmann from Why Not Associates, Durrell Bishop of Luckybite and Daljit Singh, founder of Digit discuss with chair Nico Macdonald.
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  • Are design schools the new B-schools? (audio | transcript)
    Business Week has floated the idea that tomorrow’s Business school might be a design school. Jeremy Myerson, from the RCA, Janet Abrams, from the University of Minnesota Design Institute, John Bates, London Business School and Christoph Böninger, formerly of Siemens discuss whether designers can really go head-to-head with the MBAs and whether students would be better equipped for the business world if they were design trained?
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  • Feedback: Day 1 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson reported back to delegates on Fashion Connections, the Culture thread of day one’s breakout sessions, and Nico Macdonald told the audience what they had missed if they hadn’t been discussing Interaction blur in the Interactions thread. Chair Jeremy Myerson told delegates all about the Business thread and how the panel had discussed whether D-schools were the new B-schools?
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  • But is it art? (audio | transcript)
    Can design fill the aesthetic and cultural vacuum left by contemporary art? Where are the boundaries between the two disciplines and is it even useful to try and draw distinctions between them? Designers Allan Chochinov, Peter Saville and Richard Shed are joined by artist and writer Matthew Collings in a discussion about the nature of ‘design art,’ chaired by Vicky Richardson, editor of Blueprint magazine.
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  • Can good design be co-created? (audio | transcript)
    Can good design be co-created? What can designers learn from the open source software movement and ‘wikinomics’? While everyone is a designer, isn’t it the job of professional designers to champion good design? Writer and journalist Nico Macdonald chairs a discussion with Joe Heapy (Engine), Lynne Maher (NHS) and Austin Williams (Future Cities Project) about the possibilities and pitfalls of co-design.
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  • What can design bring to strategy? (audio | transcript)
    Design strategy is a growing sub-discipline of design. This session, chaired by conference director Kevin McCullagh, asked what strengths designers bring to strategy building and what new skills they might need to acquire. The panel, Jonathan Sands from Elmwood, Richard Eisermann from Prospect and Ed Silk from Interbrand, covered the topic with reference to their own wide experience as designers and strategists.
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  • Feedback: Day 2 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson“>Vicky Richardson informed delegates who had not attended the Culture thread of the breakout sessions on Is it art? of what they had missed. Nico Macdonald feedback what delegates who had attended the Interactions thread thought about the question of whether good design can be co-created and Kevin McCullagh, who had chaired the Business thread debate on design and strategy, updated the audience on what had been discussed.