Responsive Environments: Bergamo eMotion

This course looks into the future of the built environment from a technologically augmented point of view, with a strong focus on sustainability and longevity of responsive spaces and artifacts. Putting the human being at the center and forefront, from the micro (bodily sensors, smart product design) to the macro (augmented buildings, information infrastructures, communication frameworks), this course will examine new models, technologies, and techniques for the design of innovative architectural human interfaces and responsive environments.

This year the topic of investigation will be urban mobility, addressing the question of how the built environment and its infrastructures will integrate emerging technologies and trends for evolving mobility patterns and systems, and how users will adapt to – and in some cases drive – those changes. With a focus on the City of Bergamo (Italy), the course ultimately aims to investigate the complex interplay of people’s behaviors and new modes of transportation in responsive built environments, opening up unexpected research and design opportunities as well as generating impulses and solutions for innovative urban development at different scales. In that sense, Bergamo – a typical mid-size European city – offers an ideal case study for prototypical interventions that can be possibly replicated in other urban contexts.

The first part of the course leading to the final project will constitute of readings and discussions, background research, site analysis, and technology documentation. Hands-on workshops will help students conceive and design working prototypes and speculative proposals of technologically driven and augmented environments. The course places an important emphasis on what makes the design of these responsive environments perceptually valid, technically feasible and practical. In addition to the concept of urban mobility of people and goods, research topics including techniques of digital/physical inversion, body-centric interaction, and technological longevity will drive the class discussions. The final project will be a speculative design intervention, supported by prototypes and installations, envisaging potential future scenarios for the city of Bergamo.

This course will include a trip to Bergamo, Italy for 12 students from February 20 to 27. Students enrolled in other traveling studios or courses cannot take this course. Contact Professor Sayegh with questions. Additional limited space in the course will be available for students not participating in the trip.

Note, students selected for 2314 in the online limited enrollment lottery and opt to travel will be term billed $300 and are responsible for the costs of meals and incidentals. Students are responsible for obtaining the necessary visas. One set itinerary is made for the trip with no modifications. If students wish to modify the itinerary, it may be possible for them to do so in direct contact with the travel agent, and the student is responsible for any change fees incurred. Students will need to sign a travel waiver in the Department of Architecture and register their trip with Harvard Travel Assist.