Patrik Schumacher The Designed Environment as Mind Expansion

talk delivered at ANFA, the Academy Neuroscience for Architecture
Abstract: Abstract:
Architecture has always functioned as mind expansion, as accrued spatial matrix that facilitates the navigation of the social collaborative order. The discipline’s task is the innovative spatial ordering of increasingly complex cooperative social processes. Social ordering involves the aspects of coordination and control, respectively, involving spatial integration and seclusion. As social processes become more divers, complex and intricate control must increasingly rely of self-control of increasingly free and self-directed actors. Accordingly, the architectural ordering must increasingly shift its mode of operation from the use of controlling physical barriers to the use communicated thresholds. Architecture’s social performativity thus depends on the information-richness and communicative capacity of its products. This posits the task of designing the built environment as system of signification employing a tailored spatio-visual language. The new level of complexity and dynamism of social interaction processes suggests more complex and dynamic-adaptive spaces and challenges designers with the task of maintaining legibility in the face of this complexity and dynamism. Another challenge is to comparatively appraise the efficacy of designed environments with respect to their communicative facilitation. This calls for the development of new simulation tools – agent-based interaction simulations – that can aid designers in the appraisal and design decision process, optimizing for the end users’ informational and cognitive empowerment. To the extent to which this succeeds, the capacity of built environments – real, virtual or augmented – to become empowering mind expansions is further enhanced.




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