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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Living City

  • On January 14, 2008

The Living

Architects ‘The Living‘ did a great presentation on their design approach to rapid low cost prototyping of interactive environments and construction techniques last year at the ‘Interactive Architecture & Media’ symposium I organised at Eyebeam last February. They’re currently having an exhibition at the Van Alen Institute gallery in New York running till January 18th, so if your in the area I recommend having a look. Below is a synopsis on their research. Using three parallel tracks of research they are exploring three definitions of the Living City.

Video Introduction to Living City

1. The living city – a platform for the future when buildings talk to one another

The Living

“In the future, buildings will talk to one another. In the era of ubiquitous computing–as sensors disappear into the woodwork and all kinds of data is transferred instantly and wirelessly–buildings will communicate information about their local conditions to a network of other buildings. Architecture will come to life. Living City is an ecology of facades where individual buildings collect data, share it with others in their social network, and respond to the collective body of knowledge.”

2. An exploration of the vitality of the city through new forms of public space–air and facade

The Living

“In the future, public space in the city will be everywhere. Air will be public space. Building facades will be public space. Both will belong equally to everyone in the city, no less valuable than the traditional fixed public space of parks and streets. At the intersection of air and facade, public space will be distributed and dynamic. Architecture will come to life. Living City is a definition of air as public space and building facades as public space.”

3. A prototype facade that breathes in response to air quality

The Living

In the future, walls will breathe. Construction materials and systems that have been inert for thousands of years will respond in real time to the dynamic conditions of their surroundings and to a larger network of data. Buildings will host public interfaces to air quality and make visible the invisible conditions of the environment. Architecture will come to life. Living City is a full-scale building skin designed to open and close its gills in response to air quality.”

The Living


  1. Justin

    About Time we get a update! How are you, long time no hear.

    I love this project, hope you well.


  2. hey Justin, all is well, its good to be back writing more regularily.

  3. A fascinating project indeed, but I have to object to their second point. Air will be public space? Building facades public space? Neither their website nor their video extrapolates this point, which – taken at face value – is the ridiculous masquerading as a sweeping statement on the future. The former is totally public, indeed the one resource which is free and lacking in boundaries (as So Cal states bickering over air quality infecting their territory can attest to). The latter again doesn’t make sense without any explanation. Even extending the definition of ‘facade’ to include corporate lobbies, foyers, courtyards, and entranceways, this is a miniscule amount of space. Most of this is also far from public, remaining on private land and so restricting behaviour, freedoms, and lingering to what the owner deems ‘appropriate’. Protesters at local malls typically last about 5 minutes before their ‘public’ space suddenly becomes very exclusive.

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