Technological Sensorium

Course Mentors: Dushyant Asher, Anuj Daga, Shrikar Bhave, Amol Patil,

The most evocative examples in architectural history are those that demonstrate a unique balance between spatial and technological economies, where both "work out" each other in meaningful and desired ways. Intimate interdependencies between the structural and spatial aspects of an architectural endeavour produce distinct environments that are not simply functional but technological artefacts in themselves. In more recent building processes, however, there is a tendency that the container and its support infrastructure share a master-slave relationship, alienating these two aspects from each other. These have resulted in imagining the building) envelope and its (resultant) sensation separately, producing a schism in techno-sensorial dimension which was once held together in the artefact of the building. In order to address the above schism, as well as to further explore the techno-spatial and sensorial possibilities that may be explored within building envelopes, this course works through three ideas / propositions:

Building as an apparatus - A building is a technological artefact. Several technological assemblies are disposed towards making a physical envelope possible for contextual inhabitation. These include a careful calibration of structural arrangements, material dynamics, service systems and mechanical manoeuvres. When brought together in specific formations, these calibrations may produce distinct environmental experiences within built settings. Human responses within built environments are thus, pre-disposed within the technological apparatus of the built artefact. As apparatuses made up of these assemblies, buildings hold strategic function towards manipulating forces and relations between them.

How can the apparatus that produce the building thus, be integrated as well as emphasized within the schema of its formal construct and spatial experience more meaningfully?

Phenomena as environment - Human bodies are inevitably suspended in several phenomena that we come to take for granted over time. These are normalised, felt experiences known through the senses and are not necessarily reasoned, rather recognized silently. Our perception of phenomena is culturally conditioned, inscribed in space and time. The experience of phenomena thus has a spatial bearing, necessarily understood in a body-space-time complex. Thus, the environment that we come to inhabit can be understood as a bundle of several naturalised' phenomena. Our lives get programmed to these phenomenal rhythms as an environmental condition.

Can the body be programmed in space and time in a way to experience the rhythms of phenomena not just for comfort, but also for curiosity of experience?

Space as sensorium - A built environment is a sensorial construct. In creating a physical envelope, architects produce a sensorial setting for inhabitation. Architectural process involves the mediation of phenomena through the building apparatus, in turn producing the building environment – the architectural space. (In engineering parlance, they could be understood as "conditioned" spaces). Buildings envelope thus, and themselves are, an experiential sensorium. Architecture may heighten or subvert phenomena around us in order to critically address techno-human or techno-sensual dimensions of inhabitation through the curation and creation of the artefact of the building into a sense-scape.

How can a building sensorium allow us to experience and interpret the environment around us afresh helping towards its critical appraisal?

Not to be confused with or reduced to 'natural phenomena. In addition to climatic events like rain, wind, heat, etc, for example, the condition of being surrounded by screen devices today, and therefore images, is a 'naturalised' phenomenon that has settled over time. This course draws attention to the act of mediation of phenomena through the building as an apparatus, and how it may allow us to conceive new typologies in order to become critically curious about the environment around us. The project will be undertaken in two stages of the development of architectural space as technological sensorium:

Stage 1: Sensorium as Site
In this stage, participants develop a critical understanding of a chosen (or offered) phenomena and work towards generating an apparatus for its experience. At this stage, the apparatus may take the form of a pavilion in itself - a spatial experiment that does not burden itself with the exigencies of a “real” site. This apparatus, as a model of the sensorium, becomes a site of experience in itself. The learnings from this stage may be noted and applied further into a specific site.
(Each group may experiment this within a space of 15mx15mx15m)

Stage 2: Sensorium as program
When brought into a contextual site setting, the sensorium must address programmatic dimensions while retaining the principles that hold the apparatus together. In this stage, participants get to test the efficacy of the building apparatus, and learn to adapt above experiments onto site conditions. When integrated into an existing fabric, the apparatus shall be articulated as an architectural intervention that keeps the sensorial dimension at the centre while delineating an appropriate expression for itself.