INTERATIVE WAYFINDING AND ARCHITECTURE

I have been thinking about computer technology and how we use buildings. I recently bought a book called “This building likes Me” about the work of Australian architectural firm John Wardle Architects. I thought this was an interesting title. We usually talk about liking (or disliking) a building rather than the building liking us. It seems to be worthwhile way of thinking about how to design a building. How can we create the impression that a building somehow likes us? One way would be to make the building interactive. This could include things like interactive way finding and information systems or moveable façade, climate controls that allow the building to respond in a helpful way to our needs.

 

There are now devices and applications like Amazons Alexa and google home which allow us to control things like lighting, heating, security systems and in a sense talk to our homes. This is usually something that is added on the if architecture rather than an integral part of the building design. There are also tools such as touchdesigner https://derivative.ca/ that allow designers to create projection mappings and light shows which can be connected to inputs such as touchscreens or motion sensing devices. I think architects are good at using technology to design buildings but are not so good at incorporating computer technology into our buildings. If physical retail spaces now complete with online retail, then shouldn’t it be as easy to search for a product in a shop as it is to search for it on the web. Should there be an app to help us find that item we just can’t seem to find in the supermarket.

 

So, I have been thinking about how to create things like interactive way finding signage systems that could show people where they want to go around buildings. I am imagining that people could be guided around a building by a moving lights or interactive displays simulating a swarm of fireflies or perhaps birds. This could flock together to form arrows or text as needed to guide people around a building or respond to requests for information. Below are a few experiments the wayfinding using interactive displays and flocking algorithms. This has mostly been done in processing Language. The book “The Nature of Code Simulations of Natural Systems” by Daniel Shiffman was very helpful with this. In this example to the dots would follow you around. If you then left click with your mouse the dots would guide you to your destination.