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How the Smart Building will Redefine Flexibility

Ubiquitous computing is in the works and so is the smart building.

From portable computing to smart devices and from calm computing to wearable computing, architecture will no longer exist as a static “frame” which surrounds activity. Instead, buildings will begin to “move” around their occupants — as if to gain a nervous system.

Networks will help Buildings be Smart

Computers are getting smaller and they are being increasingly networked. The result will be buildings that communicate with both their exterior and interior environments. Since computers will be embedded in just about everything, from environmental objects to occupant clothing, designing for this type of ubiquitous computing evolution will be both challenging and amazing.

For starters, buildings will have to protect while also allowing for a renewed openness which we currently don’t see. As architects we will need to re-think the notion of boundary as it relates to what occupants can do within a space — and as it relates to what a space can do around an occupant.

Boundaries Become Flexible

Thus, as architectural space gains renewed function, flexibility will also be redefined. Some current “boundaries” will become more flexible, while others may completely disappear.

The notion of scale, for example, will undergo a shift within the architect’s mindset. With advancements in fields like nanotechnology, architects will rethink what materials can do. This coupled with ubiquitous computing will yield buildings where experiences for occupants will be more personalized. Yet, such personalization does not mean isolation. Building occupants may have individual needs met while still remaining part of their building, town, city and even global communities in real-time.

The important thing for architects to remember is that ubiquitous computing does not just affect computer devices and technologies. These things will become a part of the environment — and as they are embedded, it is up to architects to design so that when buildings communicate with such devices, everything is synchronized to yield healthy and human state-of-the-art environments.

Image Credit: © maistora | Flickr

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