Architecture as Interface: Advocating a Hybrid Design Approach for Interconnected Environments
ERIN RAE HOFFER
The Blur of Interconnected Environments
We spend 90 percent of our lives indoors.[—] The built environment has a huge impact on human health, social interaction, and our potential for innovation. In return, human innovation pushes our buildings continually in new directions as occupants demand the highest levels of comfort and functionality.
Our demand for pervasive connectivity has led us to weave the Internet throughout our lives, to insist that all spaces link us together along with our handheld devices, that all environments be interconnected. Internet-enabled devices creep into the spaces we inhabit, and these devices report back on spatial conditions such as light, radiation, air quality and temperature, count the number of people stopping at retail displays minute by minute, detect intruders and security breaches, monitor locations and track characteristics of equipment and supply chain elements, enable us to open locked doors remotely using our mobile devices, and pass terabytes of data to backend systems that analyze, report, and modify the environments we occupy.
The space that surrounds us is transforming to a series of interconnected environments, forcing designers of space to rethink the role of architecture and the rules for its formulation. Similarly, designers of emerging technologies are rethinking the role of interfaces and the rules for their creation. During this period of experimentation and convergence, practical construction, and problem solving, architects must reinvent their roles and become hybrid designers, creating meaningful architecture with an awareness of the human implications of emerging technologies.