Intelligent Systems / Interactive Architectures

Visual Studies

Spring 2013

Adam Payne, instructor

Interest in physical computing has risen dramatically over the last fifteen years in the fields of architecture, engineering, industrial design and art. Following the latest trends, it is evident that architects in the future will be increasingly called upon to create building systems, spaces, structures and landscapes that are computationally enhanced and interconnected. Our environments will also demand some form of intelligent adaptability–a recognition of evolving external environmental parameters, user demands and feedback systems.

A review of the literature reveals that there are no established methodologies for designing architectural spaces as smart or intelligent spatial systems. As such, it is clear that a new multidisciplinary approach is needed to bring together research in the fields of interaction design (IxD), architectural design, product design, human computer interaction (HCI), embedded systems, robotics and engineering in order to create a more holistic design strategy for livable and productive spaces. Preparing architectural designers for these challenges demands a range of knowledge and experience well beyond the traditional domain of architectural education.

This course focused on hardware and software prototyping techniques; primarily on a wide range of sensing and actuation modalities in order to build novel interactive devices. Using remote sensors, microcontrollers (Arduino) and actuators, we built virtual and physical prototypes that can communicate with humans and the world around them. There was particular emphasis on the concept of prototyping–both digitally and physically–as a means to explore intelligent control strategies, material affects and the parameters which effect dynamic systems. A series of fast‐paced lectures and technical workshops exposed students to topics relevant to this domain including: microcontrollers and programming, sensor technologies for interactive environments, mechanism design, robotics and motor control, fabrication methodologies, parametric design, computer vision and signal analysis and interactive prototyping techniques. It was expected that by the end of the course, each student would have a range of skill capable of producing machines and prototypes that are configurable, sensate and active.

Courtney Hunt, Sydney Talcott, Mia Zinni + Bo Liu A
Rustem Baishev B/C/D