Advancements involving architecture are most always a great thing. But what happens when such advancements like technology detract from an architectural design? I think the answer to this lies in the hands of the individual architect for that given project —specifically regarding what aspects of technology they choose to make visible versus invisible.
You see, technology for architecture can bring much value to a project — giving it new kinds of capabilities. But there are also times when a given technology exudes “side-effects” which conflict and/or detract from a design. An example of this “foe” relationship between architecture and technology can be seen in all sorts of building types ranging from retail stores to hospitals.
Take, for instance, the lighting in a clothing store. If not specified correctly, flourescent lighting in the dressing rooms may detract from the very purpose of the store: to sell clothes. The painful lighting makes those trying on clothes look worse, not better. Conversely, well specified lighting would be semi- invisible technology as it would make the occupant benefit from great lighting, without thought of where it is coming from. It would simply become a seamless part of the shopping experience.
In hospitals, medical technology helps to save lives, makes the building more efficient, and serves to assist patients in pain. There exists a “friend” relationship between architecture and technology until…those side-effects surface. From lighting to the aural environment, hospitals could stand to be better. After all, painful lighting from overhead and stressful sounds coming from surrounding machines detract from the healing atmosphere which the medical team and architecture try to create for patients. Again, semi- invisible technology would still save lives — but would do so in a less overwhelming and abrasive way.
In the end, architecture and technology can yield a very strong relationship where each brings value to the other. But what is the factor that makes this possible — tuurning them from “foes” into “friends”?
Perhaps it is the notion of having an invisible technology where functions are elevated within architecture because of it — but where side-effects and trade-offs are non-existant. To accomplish this, a holistic sensory design mindset is necessary, where you as a designer factor for a multitude of senses within your design. In this way, you will be aware of when technology issues a trade-off, and you will be able to correct it.
So, back to the question: Are architecture and technology “friends” of “foes”?
I would say “friends”, if the architect designing for them takes advantage of an invisible technology mindset, thus obliterating technological side-effects and trade-offs. It’s a way to get to the benefit of technology without any of the obstacles or risks.
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