Responsive Environments: Episodes in Experiential Futures

This course introduces to the students the tools and necessary thinking framework to create technologically driven speculative environments in the near future of the built environment. The course takes a critical approach on technological augmentation that is valid spatially, socially and psychologically. By putting the human experience at the center and forefront, from the immediate body scale to the larger environment encompassing buildings and the urban spaces, the course examines new and emerging models, technologies, and techniques for the design of innovative architectural human interfaces and responsive environments.
Taking a holistic view, the class will address multifaceted aspects of our experience of the built environment and how the rapid pace of technological innovation affects our relationship to our daily lives and spaces around us. The course takes advantage of the resources offered by the ongoing research project at the REAL lab with the Italian City of Bergamo, the course aims to build on that research and open up new research and speculative design opportunities. Bergamo – a typical mid-size European city – offers an ideal case study for prototypical interventions that can be possibly replicated in other contexts.
The first part of the course leading to the final project will consist of readings and discussions, background research, site analysis, and emerging technology investigation. Hands-on prototyping will be part of the course requirement and will feed into the larger speculative concepts. The course places an important emphasis on what makes the design of these responsive environments perceptually valid and technically feasible. Topics of in-class discussions include: techniques of digital/physical perceptual correlations, body-centric interaction, user experience design, and technological viability and perceptual longevity. The final group project will be a speculative design intervention, supported by a research paper and prototypes, envisaging potential scenarios ? or episodes of experiential futures.
The course outcomes will be a contribution to a publication. Students from any background and concentration are encouraged to apply to the lottery. No specific prerequisites are needed.

This course will include a trip to Bergamo, Italy for 12 students from February 23rd to March 2nd. Students who travel in this course will be term billed $300. Students can only participate in one traveling course or studio. One set itinerary is made and students are responsible for contacting the travel agent and paying for any changes to this itinerary. Students are also responsible for the cost of all meals and incidentals, such as local travel. Additional limited space in the course will be available for students not participating in the trip. Students from any background and concentration are encouraged to apply to the lottery. No specific prerequisites are needed.