DAAPworks 2017

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Final Studio

studio reflection

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P8 – Final

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mixed reality with architecture

Mixed Reality in Architecture

Mixed Reality in Architecture

Mixed Reality // Architecture:

Simulacrum // City

It’s impossible to deny any longer that what was once the “real” world is now melded with its “virtual” counterpart. As recently as the 1990s, people could only dream of cyberspace, and only a few decades later we are living almost our entire lives online. Smartphones, social media, and instantaneous worldwide communication are no longer virtual. They are real. What is the next horizon of virtuality? If the fantasies and dreams of today are anything to go on, the very fabric of space itself will change. Mixed reality, or the integration of virtual or augmented reality and real environments, will be reality.

To me, this notion is both frightening and exciting. Architecture will change because of this technology, but I think it will change in its tectonics before the technology and ways of making can trickle down through the design. Regardless, the question is, how will things change? Is this change good or bad? How can one possibly cope with such radical change? There are many questions that must be dealt with. One method I found useful for analyzing these questions and their outcomes is through careful examination of popular media. Creatives throughout the ages have been contemplating what will come next and what it will mean. Luckily, the idea of virtual or augmented reality and what it means has been a very popular subject among filmmakers, artists, writers, and thinkers for almost as long as science fiction has been a genre.

One trope of mixed reality in cinema is that it is used to alter perceptions. In The Matrix, “real life” as we know it is actually a complex virtual simulation, designed by robot overlords to placate the human race. The Truman Show’s titular character unknowingly has lived his entire life in a false and manipulated reality as part of a television show. In both of these examples, mixed reality is an adversary, or something to be overcome. However, it is this conflict that gives meaning to the whole story. Could something similar happen in architecture? Could a virtual architecture give way to a tangible one, and thereby impart some extra meaning?

In other works, mixed reality makes us question reality beyond just the visuals. In the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone, a man finds himself all alone in a small town. Unease and dread pervades. However, this is only a façade, a virtual reality developed by his own mind while in preparation for deep space isolation. In Total Recall, a man pays to have new memories added about a Mars vacation, but when unexpected intrigue and action sets in, we are left wondering whether the memories were real or false at all. Again, we see the dangers of mixed reality, especially if it’s unclear. But we can use this phenomenon in architecture? Could the extra affectations on the end user from virtual architecture further a particular architecture’s function or goal?

Works that don’t even necessarily focus on mixed reality as a topic raise some of the best questions about mixed reality in architecture. In particular, I am thinking of Blade Runner, based on the Philip K Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The film focuses on a bounty hunter of androids who have disguised themselves as human. Over the course of the film, the main character realizes he has more in common with them than not. This leads us to question, if an android in indistinguishable from a human, what does it really mean to be human? In terms of architecture, the same questions can be asked. If mixed reality architecture can be indistinguishable from architecture as we know it, does the nature or meaning of architecture change?

This brings me to an exploration of the influence of mixed reality on architecture in an indirect way. Whereas my the exploration above concerns itself more with physical transcendence as a result of mixed reality, there are more options to consider. Questioning the nature of architecture because of mixed reality has ramifications on what architecture becomes down the road. Similarly, mixed reality is commonly thought to be used by architects not as a piece of architecture itself, but rather as a tool to expedite the design process. An essential copy, if you will. Even today, cutting edge architects around the globe improve their workflows by using this technology. One big mixed reality application is visualization, where through virtual reality immersion an architect or client can get a better approximation of what a design is going to be like before it’s even close to being built. Some are also using it to communicate more quickly, by solving problems or coordinating ideas in a much more intuitive way than typical construction drawings.

Certainly this change to the design process will influence architecture in the future, the same way that the use digital drawing and parametric design have influenced architecture today. However, it is even more tantalizing to consider that it’s not only architects that will use mixed reality. Normal people will engage with this technology in their regular lives, and it can therefore be integrated into the very spaces that we inhabit. Architecture can incorporate simulacrum, strange in its verisimilitude, which goes beyond from merely copying reality to copying the copy of reality. Furthermore, when the technology is used in this way, it has the capability to be so pervasive that it will exist not only on the intimate scale, but also on the urban scale. Such an idea has massive implications to urban design.

In particular, how does mixed reality technology work on an urban scale? Often mixed reality is associated with various head mounted displays and devices, however it is a bigger stretch to think people will carry such devices wherever they go. If such a thing is possible eventually, it will be farther in the future than a naked eye solution. One way we know is because naked eye holograms already exist today. There are many options, but one of the most interesting is “automultiscopic” display. Hundreds of cameras capture an object from every angle, create a 3d model of the object from those images, and then distribute different angles of that model to a series of projectors, which all point at a special screen that allows multiple viewers to view a composite of slices of these models from an angles. A true simulacrum.

The next question is to discover what urban issues can be solved with this technology. In age of wholesale reurbanization, special care must be taken in the developments of the new city. Too often do we take to the pitfalls of gentrification, when in the name of growth people are expelled from their homes. With this in mind, we must look to the previously omitted sectors of the city as fertile sites for growth. In nearly every city in the US and the world at large, highways and their interchanges occupy millions of square feet, sometimes immediately adjacent to the urban core. The monstrous parasites are oppressive in their spatial monumentality, plaguing the surrounding area with traffic noise, pollution, and the obstruction of visual connections to the surrounding city. Furthermore, they take people away from the city: the shrinking city manifested.

Technology is the key to how we take this parasitic place back, and transform it to a place where people can work, shop, eat, and live. Automultiscopic displays already allow us to view 3d holographic objects from various angles, and the technology will soon allow us to replicate entire environments. This will make a literal window to other worlds. These worlds can be other parts of own, reflections thereof, reflections of reflections, or completely virtual.

My project utilizes a series of these panels that cascade down from the towering highways like a curtain. The new skin of the highway folds and tears to create new space underneath the parasite, occupiable by architecture and the land. The tectonic element of the panels provides vital substrate for acoustic barriers and pollution filtering foliage. The panels themselves break the visual barriers imposed by the highway overhead, punching a hole through the immediate reality and connecting the site to other parts of the city.

Augmented reality holographic panels will create a new livable space that exists under a parasite in a part of the city that was once in exile.

The project provides a system for access to a new urban space in the underbelly of the parasitic highway interchange, executed via employment of mixed reality panels that both obscure the reality of the highway and punches a hole clean through them to another reality entirely.

Robert Kish Final

Robert Kish Final Mixed Reality in Architecture

Sho Sugimoto Final

Sho SUgimoto Board 1 Sho Sugimoto Board 2

Future of History Paper

Sho SUgimoto Board 1

Final Board

Final Presentation

Specker_First Board

Specker_Second Board


Final Boards and Essay

Board 1

Board 2

Studio Reflections

P8 – Final Boards and Essay


Future Applications of Mixed Reality