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Rendering of a futuristic datacenter
Datacenter City by Huilin Liu, Wei Xie, Xiaoman Zhang
Student Work M.S. AUD

Virtual Presence: Toward an Architecture Without Materials

IDEAS Technology Studio
2021

The goal of the IDEAS Technology Studio is to investigate the relationship between architecture and contemporary technological paradigms on artificial intelligence, robotics and Extended Reality (XR). This year's “Virtual Presence” studio will explore the intersection of the physical and digital worlds as a synthesized environment that enhances communication among people, where methods and consequences of virtualization of architectural environments will be the main focus.

Constructing architecture enhanced by and built with media, the “Virtual Presence” studio will investigate scenarios where occupants of such architectures travel seamlessly between the digital and physical worlds. Although the native stasis of architecture has traditionally been in the domain of the physical world, what the current natural disasters (the pandemic, wild fires etc.) has shown us is that we will progressively rely more on virtualization of real world contexts for work, socialization, economy and entertainment as the natural world continues to become more contentious to human health and comfort due to climate change. As a very material-centric discipline, architecture often takes pride in its role as the orchestrator of the physical construction of the world. Our current reality however requires us to question such fundamental basis of architecture and re-focus our attention to its essence; the construction of artificial environments for human occupation, whether they are digital or physical.

The Fall studio “A Digital Cocoon: Home as an Ecology of Interactive Media” aims to re-imagine a cybernetic form of domesticity that is fluidly responsive to crises- one that interprets architecture as transient media rather than a vessel that negotiates between violence of nature and the body. In the same way our homes have become vessels of self isolation during the pandemic (as barriers for biological and political violence,) the goal of the studio is to interpret domesticity as a platform for digital interaction in our own terms; one that forms itself around us rather than us accommodating to its platform-based corporate intricacies. The process we will follow requires the students to start with the domestic environment of their own, and then apply techniques of “gamification” to expand the possibilities of the same home in its virtual depiction. As a result, each student will finish the quarter with a video game version of a domestic environment, highly transformed and stylized, rich with media content, one that allows for key interactivities that cater to personal and professional use. In this regard, the home becomes a digital cabinet of curiosities, filled with interactive objects, surfaces and zones that transform, change and respond to multiple functional requirements. It also becomes the ultimate expression of the inhabitants' values, as it no longer needs to conform to its material and aesthetic origins once the transformation is complete.

Related Faculty
Güvenç Özel, Benjamin Ennemoser
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