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September 25, 2006



A 3-Day Symposium

The Center for Virtual Architecture at the University at Buffalo, the Institute for Distributed Creativity, and The Architectural League of New York present: ARCHITECTURE AND SITUATED TECHNOLOGIES :: October 19-21, 2006 @ The Urban Center & Eyebeam, New York City.

A 3-day symposium bringing together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of "situated" technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary metapolis. Organized by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard :: Participants: Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Richard Coyne, Michael Fox, Anne Galloway, Charlie Gere, Usman Haque, Natalie Jeremijenko, Sheila Kennedy, Eric Paulos, Karmen Franinovic, Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, Kazys Varnelis :: Contact: Jessica Blaustein - blaustein[at]league.org

Since the late 1980s, computer scientists and engineers have been researching ways of embedding computational intelligence into the built environment. Looking beyond the model of personal computing, which placed the computer in the foreground of our attention, "ubiquitous" computing takes into account the social dimension of human environments and allows computers themselves to vanish into the background. No longer solely virtual, human interaction with computers becomes socially integrated and spatially contingent as everyday objects and spaces are linked through networked computing.

Today, researchers focus on how situational parameters inform the design of a wide range of mobile, wearable, networked, distributed and context-aware devices. Incorporating an awareness of cultural context, accrued social meanings, and the temporality of spatial experience, situated technologies privilege the local, context-specific and spatially contingent dimension of their use.

Despite the obvious implications for the built environment, architects have been largely absent from this discussion, and technologists have been limited to developing technologies that take existing architectural topographies as a given context to be augmented.

At the same time, to the extent that early adopters of these technologies have focused on commercial, military and law enforcement applications, we can expect to see new forms of consumption, warfare and control emerge.

This symposium seeks to occupy the imaginary of these emerging technologies and propose alternate trajectories for their development.

What opportunities and dilemmas does a world of networked "things" pose for architecture and urbanism? What distinguishes the emerging urban sociality enabled by mobile technologies and wireless networks? What post-optimal design strategies and tactics might we propose for an age of responsive environments, smart materials, embodied interactions, and participatory networks? How might this evolving relation between people and "things" alter the way we occupy, navigate, and inhabit the city? What is the status of the material object in a world privileging networked relations between "things"? How do distinctions between space and place change within these networked media ecologies? How do the social uses of these technologies, including (non-) affective giving, destabilize rationalized "use-case scenarios" designed around the generic consumer?

Through a combination of presentations, discussions, and performative design scenarios organized around the notion of "encounter" with the city, this symposium will explore how architecture might contribute to the development of situated technologies, and how a critical engagement with these technologies might extend architecture beyond itself.


Architecture and Situated Technologies is a co-production of the Center for Virtual Architecture, The Institute for Distributed Creativity, and the Architectural League of New York, as part of the League's celebration of the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Architecture and Situated Technologies is supported by the J. Clawson Mills Fund of the Architectural League and is supported in part by the School of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo.


The Center for Virtual Architecture at the University at Buffalo

The Center for Virtual Architecture' research is ocated at the intersection of architecture, new media and computational technologies. We are interested in the possibilities offered by computational systems for rethinking human interaction with (and within) the built environment. Our focus areas include learning environments, design environments, responsive architecture and locative media. Computational technology provides both a means and a medium for this research: an operative paradigm for conceptualizing relations between people, information, and the material fabric of everyday life.

The Institute for Distributed Creativity

The research of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC) focuses on sociable media and media theory with an emphasis on social justice. Its mailing list is a vivid discoursive platform for the social implications of emerging forms of networked sociality. The iDC is an international network that combines collaborative research, events, and documentation.

The Architectural League of New York

The Architectural League of New York is an independent forum for the
presentation and discussion of creative and intellectual work in architecture, urbanism, and related design disciplines. Founded in 1881, the League promotes excellence and innovation in architecture and urbanism by furthering the education of architects and designers, and by communicating to a broad audience the importance of architecture in public life. Through an active schedule of programs, the League provides a venue for contemporary work and ideas, identifies and encourages the work of talented young architects, creates opportunities for exploring new approaches to problems in the built environment, and fosters a stimulating community for dialogue and debate. All of the League¹s work is shaped by its ongoing commitment to interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and international exchange, and by its concern for the quality of architecture and city form as critical components of a vital and dynamic culture.

Posted by jo at September 25, 2006 05:22 PM