Week 5 | Urban Informatics

Accessed from: http://www.australianscience.com.au/news/urban-informatics-interview-with-marcus-foth/ March 29, 2013.

The progression of information technology has been so quick that undoubtedly it’s opportunities and potentials are nowhere near fully understood. The last few years has seen a dramatic improvement of mobile technology which has opened up an unprecedented level of access to information and entertainment. At any time and in any place (obviously provided your not in the wilderness) smartphone owners can answer questions or pass away time by reaching into their pockets. While mobile devices and the internet in general offers obvious benefits, such as freedom, opportunities to learn or entertainment (to name a few) there are some arguable drawbacks. For example, some argue the popularity of social media is resulting in reduced face-to-face interactions as people spend more time communicating via a screen.

The earlier mentioned characteristics of freedom of information, entertainment, feedback, discussion, etc all have the potential to influence architecture in a unique way. A building is by nature a tangible construction, it exists in the physical world even though many characteristics of its architecture are intangible (e.g. programming, sense of place, etc). Often a great deal of a building’s success is in its relationships with its surrounds; its context, both macro and micro. Architecture has always had relationships with culture, with the community in which the building sits and it is along these lines that I believe the virtual world of technology can create interesting opportunities. Virtual networks and the communication of both information and between people, businesses, organisations can offer relationships with the building. People who may never even visit the site could interact with it. For example, a transport building may receive traffic condition updates from people sitting on roads; people who pass accidents and want to let others know. This information could then be displayed on the buildings facade for example.

Weather services could be monitored and the data could be used to inform mechanical devices within the building; adjusting openings, shading devices and the like to provide better climatic responsiveness. These are two quick examples of how the virtual infrastructure could provide a level of connection and interactivity between people and architecture. Technology continues to improve and as it does so will other uses become obvious and as the integration of technology and architecture will offer new and exciting opportunities.

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