Advertisements

Tag Archives: AI

Living in a cloud: What nanotech means for architecture and the built environment

Could there come a time when buildings will become less about bricks and mortar and feel more like mists or fogs?

JULY 02, 2019 |

Last month, I wrote about how automation and AI are dramatically changing all four fundamental relationships between buildings and machines. For example, nanotechnology, which manipulates individual atoms and molecules to assemble things, could make the modernist metaphor of a “machine for living in” into reality, since the building would actually be composed of many tiny machines.

In fact, that’s not quite accurate. The definition of “machine” is “an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task.” 

So machines are made of distinct parts, cobbled together to fulfill a function. They are characterized by their composition, as assemblages of singular bits and pieces in which the whole is greater than the sum.

 

SEE ALSO: Assessing AI’s impact on the AEC profession and the built environment

 

But nanotech will completely change this. When entire buildings can be shaped from microscopic components, the visible distinction between the individual parts will evaporate. A structure built from invisible machines will not appear to be a machine at all, since it no longer will be perceived as an assembly of parts. An edifice made of congealed cybernetic butter will look to be all whole, no parts. The very concept of a “building” could become meaningless, since it will no longer be “built” in any traditional way. 

Remember “Terminator 2”? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is a machine: steel and servos wrapped in human skin. Robert Patrick’s T-1000 is made of liquid metal (“mimetic polyalloy”). He’s like sentient mercury, morphing into any shape he needs. A nanotech building (“nanotecture”?) would make conventional structures seem like Robby the Robot (of “Forbidden Planet” fame).

Buttery buildings could change everything we think and know about architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright felt that architectural form should stem from the inherent “nature” of its materials: “Each material speaks a language of its own.” In his mind, the proportions, heft, and texture of brick logically translated into structures such as the Robie House, which extends horizontally and hugs the land. But when the constituent parts of a building are too small to be seen with the naked eye, the relationships between form and materials will change. What is the “language” of a nanobot?

Because the character of a building could vary upon command—hard and opaque one minute, soft and transparent the next—the fabric of buildings could become fluid, fluctuating states from solid to liquid to gas and back. The notion of truth in materials will become irrelevant. In fact, the word material could go away. When the basic building blocks of architecture have no strict definition, structure and substance could separate. Matter may not matter.

Could there come a time when buildings will become less about bricks and mortar and feel more like mists or fogs, vaguely enveloping space in ways we can barely picture now? What will it be like to live in a cloud?

Lance Hosey, FAIA, LEED Fellow, is a Design Director with Gensler. His book, The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design, has been an Amazon #1 bestseller in the Sustainability & Green Design category.

Continue reading Living in a cloud: What nanotech means for architecture and the built environment

Advertisements

How Technology is Humanizing Office, Retail and Healthcare Design

05.20.2019

By Cheryl S. Durst
35Shares

In the past 20 years, commercial interiors, workplaces and even our own homes have been enhanced and augmented by a variety of technologies. Whether it’s charging stations in your organization’s conference room or a robot in your living room that tells you the weather (and maybe listens to all of your conversations), there’s no question that the fully integrated tech realm we fantasized for the future has become a reality.

But despite a growing fear that technology is making us less empathetic, more impatient, less polite and, overall, less human, technology in our interior spaces can actually help us instead enhance our humanity in surprising ways.

THE OFFICE OF THE FUTURE, TODAY

By assisting with our needs, wants and work patterns, successful tech integration within workplace interiors means happier, healthier and more productive employees. These interventions can be as small as including accessibility-configured outlets at every workstation, or as big-picture as virtual meetings or artificial intelligence (AI)  automated lighting, temperature and window-tinting systems.

Smart workplace technology means customization, whether through equipping offices with reliable video conferencing and real-time communication platforms for remote employees or adding adjustable furniture or nutrition-sensitive kitchen models to offices.

PUTTING AI IN RETAIL

Today’s consumers are uninspired by traditional brick-and-mortar storefront models. With online shopping abundant and convenient, retailers have to come up with inventive solutions to get customers back inside a physical space. Creating memorable in-store experiences ultimately has more to do with understanding a shopper’s humanity — his or her needs, concerns and desires — and smart technology plays a critical role in that process.

HARVESTING NATURAL LIGHT FOR INTERIORS

Read More

Tech-driven store models allow consumers the power to create personalized shopping experiences and make their lives a little easier. Take for example Nike’s latest location in West L.A., which links its interior to the new Nike app. Using a shopper’s browsing and purchase history, the app designs the shopping experience, with personalized suggestions, on-the-spot checkout and product scanning features.

Last year, U.S. grocery chain Kroger unveiled the “Kroger Edge” digital price tag technology displaying pricing and nutrition information for products, making it easy for customers to select and understand the food they are buying. This digitization of price tags also uses renewable energy and allows for Kroger to use less in-store electricity, making it a green solution to an age-old retail feature.

TOUCH SCREEN HEALTHCARE

Hospitals and clinics can be intimidating places, but technology is helping us create more intuitive, empathetic and dynamic healthcare environments. Rather than diminish the human touch, technology within healthcare design may actually help improve patient and provider experience. 

The Cedars-Sinai, Playa Vista Physician Office and Urgent Care in Playa Vista, CA, for example, was designed by ZGF Architects to provide high-quality, patient-centered services to the community in Silicon Valley by seamlessly integrating smart technology, planning and aesthetics. The location offers patients and staff advanced audiovisual systems, digital signage, kiosks and nurse call systems, all within one three-story interior whose design allows for adaption to future tech upgrades without putting the architecture in jeopardy.

Other healthcare providers have begun utilizing tech advancements like smartphone apps and virtual visits to enhance patient experience and access to appointments. Telemedicine services like evisit let patients contact their doctors remotely on smartphones or other devices to discuss health concerns, making it easier and less stressful to schedule one-off appointments or conversations.

Technology continues to change the way we shop, work, play and live. When effectively and thoughtfully used, it allows us to inventively integrate the human touch back into systems and networks dictating daily life.


Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, is the executive vice president and CEO of IIDA. She’s committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its
significant role in our society.

Designing Inclusive and Gender-Neutral Restrooms [Codes]
New Technologies Improve Acoustic Renovations [Sound]

35Shares
related articles

Continue reading How Technology is Humanizing Office, Retail and Healthcare Design

%d bloggers like this: