Linking Architecture & Technology During the Festive Season

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Interactive systems were all the hype during this festive season. Some of the recent emerging technologies yield a functional crossover with architecture. Mostly responsive systems, technology has provided an innovative outlet for the transformation of architecture concepts. Responsive elements of architecture such as lighting, color, lines and sensory systems change through the interaction of humans and technology. From a mechanical sculpture handing you your shopping purchase on the egress, to the vibrant light display twinkling at the renowned picturesque events of New York City, and finally to the children interacting with the touch display at the palm of their hands, the fusion of architecture and technology in the digital age has really come a long way.


Interaction Design
While architecture relates to the translation of the physical environment from the socio-cultural aspect of the users, interaction design falls under the umbrella of user experience (UX) design - the use of digital systems to embed interactivity with the user and product. With 5 dimensions such as words (1D), visual representations (2D), physical objects or space (3D), time (4D) and behavior (5D), interaction design takes on a new toll as a contemporary architectural element.

Useful example could be the use of an interactive RFID card in a spatial layout of a restaurant rather than the traditional management system. With users acting as mobile tokens, the notification of orders and payment act well in accordance to the architectural program of a restaurant. During the cheerful festive season, restaurant design could make use of this interactive technology to complement the impending influx of diners.

Also, the use of haptic or kinesthetic systems in Luminaries seamlessly integrates the interaction between the user and the responsiveness of architecture by applying motions, forces and vibrations into the display.


Kinetic Architecture
Due to the advancement in mechanics, electronics and robotics in the late 20th century, kinetic architecture has since then transformed the once static buildings into an unbelievable moving structure without compromising its structural integrity.

Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum is an exceptional example with its signature wings, the shape-shifting Burke brise soleil. Smart and responsive, the steel fins use sensors to monitor wind speed with which the wings close automatically at the limit of 23 mph for 3 seconds. Furthermore, the use of kinetic architecture for changeable lighting system has become a staple for the lively festive installations which also requires an interactive audiovisual live performance and projection mapping.


Parametric Architecture
Using the tools such as computer and algorithms, parametric architecture paved way for the construction of the unorthodox organic forms and facades as opposed to the traditional boxy ones.

Kengo Kuma's Starbucks Coffee very well showcases the consistency of the concept and the built project through the parametric design of the wood. This tool was also greatly utilized by Zaha Hadid and the recent impressive installation by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, which is an interactive lattice structure of light-changing modules.


As a designer, what innovative technologies had you incorporated with architecture for the interpretation of the vivid festive season? Share your insights below!


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Answers (1)

lucia-ramirez, Architect • Jan 3

Kinetic architecture is my favorite of the three when it comes to making a project look "festive".I feel like Interaction Design (user experience design, UX) should be integrated to all sorts of projects, including homes, and it's a topic I'd like to explore more since it could have so many applications.

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