Futures Fair '10

Seminar Summary

Professor Derek Clements-Croome – Reading University

Technology progresses at such a fast rate that the built environment can struggle to keep up. Professor Derek Clement-Croome opened the advancement session by stating that the technological provisions in buildings are often out of date by the time the building is completed, however most modern buildings are adaptable enough to cope with these changes. Technologies that allow us to measure blood sugar levels, and devices that monitor energy consumption in the home are examples of advancements being driven by improvements in quality of life and environmental sustainability, with the possibility of further technological developments that may include the harvesting of energy generated by human movement, security devices that can recognize you based on your body, and bars that sense your mood and mix drink accordingly! Smart technology in the building construction industry may see smart concrete containing nanotubes to enhance strength, decrease weight and provide self healing and self cleaning properties. At a more fundamental level buildings will be more sensitive- responding to people by BSN (body sensor networks)

Ximo Peris – Crystal CG

Ximo Peris of Crystal CG explored advancements in 3D technologies, and how these are improving the design of the built environment. Referencing the considerable computer generated work on display during the Beijing Olympics; Peris asked’ where does this leave the ‘real’ world?’ Improvements in crowd analysis technology are also affecting the built environment. New technologies are allowing us to test scenarios- from the everyday to emergency procedures, within simulated proposals of buildings and public spaces. This is providing us the opportunity to test and improve our built spaces before they exist.
Alongside these new tools, Peris explored the concept of the avatar. This online representation of an alternative self implies a whole world of people who live life through fictional characters in a fictional online world. This is doubt over how a life lived online could affect a person- and how this begins to relate to our use of real spaces and places.

Dr Jake Desyllas – Intelligent Space, Atkins Global

Dr Jake Desyllas further explored the benefits of virtual-world analysis on the real world, with a focus on how the visual elements of a design influence the way we navigate a building or space. He referred to the successful re-design of the Oxford Circus crossing as a prime example of visibility analysis done right, blaming ‘a massive imbalance in the use of space’ for the poor functionality of its previous incarnation.
By creating a virtual equivalent of Oxford Circus’ new diagonal crossing, his team was able to simulate user reactions with the space and explore numerous variables. Questions were raised about the functionality of the design, including ‘will people bump into each other in the middle?’, but the strength of the visibility analysis software answered these questions. Desyllas stated that virtual analysis would continue to become more integrated with architecture and urban design, and could even be used to solve problems within existing buildings. Referencing Clements-Croome’s discussion around technological provisions within building design, Desyllas predicted a world where information systems would be less integrated into buildings, as we will have access to a world of information through handheld devices.

MP3s to follow, check back soon.

Crystal CG