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The “Extended Mind” Evolves With Architectural Design

Human awareness is not as perfect as you might think. We humans are easily distracted and our attention can be fleeting. So, this notion of an “extended mind” seems to make sense. The idea as described in the Discover article entitled The Brain: How Google Is Making Us Smarter explains that the human mind is really a system made up by the human brain extending into “parts of the environment”. Ultimately, the mind comes to depend on its environment for cues and information.(1)

With the computer revolution, humans are relying more and more on machines to make up a piece of their “extended mind”. As such tools permeate human environments; I can’t help but think of how the notion of an “extended mind” may influence architecture. 

Architectural design, due to its incorporation of aesthetic and function, can almost immediately be considered as part of this “extended mind”. Buildings surround their occupants and provide for many of their needs. Such needs include sensorial stimulation, community relationship building and functional processes. Architecture may also be said to help the human mind by helping it to adapt as, it too, evolves.

First, we cannot deny that computers and other tools are continuously finding their way into architectural environments. Buildings are becoming smarter and more interactive. As architects learn new ways to cater to their building’s occupants, architectural features will become more meaningful as they strive to help occupants live better lives.

With ongoing innovations, architecture will be able to tailor its interactions to occupant styles, tastes and needs in real-time. Architecture itself may become “hub-like” in that it provides a new kind of place for idea-sharing and experience enhancement. As interactive design installations gain popularity, occupants will be able to experience themselves and others in new ways. Information will take on different interactive qualities and architecture will relate more personally to its occupants.

The notion of an “extended mind” will continue to evolve as interactive architecture becomes increasingly main-stream. In addition, these advanced environments may help our minds to evolve as well. Consequently, more interaction with our environments may mean that greater resources will be readily available to us in real-time. Just as Google has placed an abundance of information at our fingertips (literally)(1), interactive architecture will have the power to improve our experiences via augmented realities. Thus, our “extended minds” may connect to architectural design in whole new ways.

Reference:

(1) Zimmer, Carl. The Brain: How Google Is Making Us Smarter. Discover. January 15, 2009.

Image Credit: © Raja Rc | Dreamstime

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