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The Performance of Space

By Published on . 4

Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
When I was in graduate school my professors would torture my soul about creating definitions for terms. The task was super frustrating and I constantly felt that, instead of taking the conversation forward, we could hardly say anything at all because we were always busy defining every word in a sentence.

Out of that came an interesting discovery for me. There is great benefit in stumbling across things unexpectedly, but it seemed also worthwhile to take a moment and define where design and architecture could go.

Here are three definitions (in flux) for how spaces can behave, and a completely biased suggestion for where the potential lies.

PRESCRIBED:
The basic model for this category is a film: a pre-scripted story that unfolds over time with no influence by its viewers in real-time.
A stunning example of this is the media facade for the ILUMA building in Singapore by United Realities, currently in realization. The crystal-like fluorescent lamps tapestry will act as a canvas for pre-rendered static and dynamic art. While beautiful, it is not at all affected by its surroundings.

RESPONSIVE:
A space that responds to its environment, but only indirectly. There is no one-to-one relationship and it is impossible to change the design intentionally.

The Flare Facade by WHITEvoid is a recent example of a living facade system that can respond to the changing light conditions in the environment.

INTERACTIVE:
In an interactive space, both a person and the environment have agency. Using media like a brick, the seamless integration of technology into architecture can create intelligent spaces that engage and curate personalized experiences that are ever-changing.

Here's a most charming example. Media artist Theodore Watson, working together with Emily Gobeille, designed a virtual ecosystem in which children create trees with their bodies and then divert water from the waterfall to the trees in order to keep them alive. Funky Forest is a place for play and learning in a way that no book or film could simulate.

In my opinion, intelligent environments that seamlessly integrate media in order to create constant conversations with their inhabitants are some of the most interesting explorations happening in design and architecture today.

It's time that we demand from our spaces what we expect from our iPhones, our Pandora playlists and our Amazon wish lists.

If we can define it, we can build it.

*** Tali Krakowsky, Director of Experience Design, heads a think tank at WET. Working closely with design, research and production, she focuses on developing new ideas, technologies and business opportunities for the short- and long-term future of the firm.
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