The arch tech revolution

Arch Tech – March 14th, 2018

by Ben van Berkel

Technology must become an integral part of architectural practice. Sensorial technology offers great opportunities to improve quality of people’s lives in buildings and cities.

I look at technology within the built environment from the viewpoint of an architect. When writing the book ‘Knowledge Matters’, it became obvious to me that the traditional role of the architect had changed, and is still changing. This shifting role gains serious potential when linked to sensorial adaptive design and to the integration of tech within the built environment. And this is exciting!

The digital revolution is, after all, driving change in the output of almost every other industry. If you look at developments in the automotive industry for example, there is an incredible amount of R&D carried out that aims to improve user experiences when traveling in cars. For the end user, the experience of going to a particular destination could become nearly as important, or almost comparable in terms of quality, as the experience at the destination itself. Innovation within the automotive industries is driven by a strong vision to improve comfort, safety and wellbeing. And we, as the architects of both the start and endpoint of most journeys, should have the ambition to improve the built environment in the same way.

If we contextualise architecture within sensorial adaptive design, we can get to architecture’s very essence: that is a humanised built environment. UNSense will therefore explore and develop sensor-based technologies, not for the sake of technology itself but in order to humanise architecture. Unlike more typical tech platforms, it is not the hardware or the software itself that interests us, but how it can be applied within architecture and urban design to improve our daily lives. Working from a design perspective, we can differentiate our output on a visible and sensorial level, creating buildings and cities that are sensitive and empathic to human beings.

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