As the World Wide Web and social media encourage more and more digital and virtual social interactions, will the role of the architectural building system have a new place in contributing to or detracting from the way we humans interact with each other? With so so many people now using social media, I think the answer is yes.
In an article I read recently called Is a Social Crash Coming, the notion of a “hyper-connectivity” surfaces along with its ramifications in terms of human touch — or the ability for people to engage in person-to-person interactions. As an architect, I think this is a very interesting topic, especially when thinking about the role architecture has had. As an example, think of the effect of the “agora” as a Greek gathering place…it changed the dynamic of how people interrelated and behaved.
As the World Wide Web and social media make us more “present” in the minds of so many more people than ever before, I think that architectural design will need to refresh its ability to provide great focus for its occupants, by helping them to make the most of their personal face-to-face connections, while also staying current within their often global social media networks.
Buildings that “Read” You to Help You with Everyday Life
Part of this challenge will be a building’s ability to help occupants visualize and make sense of a tremendous amount of incoming information (a large part of which is coming from all of their social networks), while also helping occupants take that information from those connections that they find useful, to ultimately be able to inject what is of prime importance and relevance into their everyday real-world life.
For instance, while working in an office building an employee might be trying to work contingently on a project task at hand, while also being interrupted by numerous social media requests coming from both faraway and neighboring coworkers. In this case, an adaptive architecture could understand which interactions are happening when, and help the employee to extract information into his or her physical office for future meetings or presentations that will happen that day on location (within the office building).
Thus, the architecture could help that employee work more efficiently, with less stress and with greater foresight — as such an office might also be prompted by that employee’s social media interactions to prepare itself for upcoming brainstorming or a more formal presentation meeting at hand. Thus, the office could change itself transiently throughout the day as “virtual conversations” occur that affect the present employee’s tasks at hand.
In the end, as an architect you should keep your eye on emerging social media trends, for they are changing the way people interact both socially and professionally. And of course, architecture plays a large role in how people carry out their lifestyle design. For this reason, architectural design can be used as a social tool to help people make the most out of their many “connections”.
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