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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Performative Ecologies – Ruairi Glynn

  • On July 20, 2007

Performative Ecologies Film 15Mb
Development of Performative Ecologies Film 25Mb

Well here’s whats been keeping me busy these past months. I got the opportunity to share my most recent collection of responsive environments, collectively called “Performative Ecologies” at the We Love Technology conference a couple of days ago and now I’ve finally found the time to distill a considerable amount of  ideas and speculative installations into something manageable to read along with a short film about the culmination of the work as well as a longer film about the development of the project.

Some of the questions at the center of my work are: Fundamentally, what is interactivity? How can we build environments that are interactive as apposed to reactive? What does an interactive architecture offer us over a reactive architecture? What does interactive architecture offer us over the lifetime of the buildings and wider landscape we inhabit? These questions go back much further than this particular project, and in fact,  were the reason I started this blog in the first place.

If I was to try and sum it up in a sentence, it is fundamentally about giving our architecture the ability to enter into dialog with us, rather than simply respond with fixed behaviours to fixed commands from us, to learm from its experiences and adapt its behaviours, to suggest new spatial configurations and see how we respond. Very often I find that so called ‘interactive environments’ rarely enable the architecture to negotiate its behaviours , but rather follow pre-choreographed routines when triggered. More broadly, a great deal of misuse of the term ‘interactive’ is common in art, design and architectural discourse and I believe that this has diluted its true meaning and huge potential. My description of “Performative Ecologies” should reveal some of the ideas I’ve developed, and present where I think the most interesting possibilities exist. Please let me know what you think.


Full description of Project


  1. “it is fundamentally about giving our architecture the ability to enter into dialog with us”
    Although on a completely different timescale, this makes me think about Stewart Brand’s “How buildings learn” when he talks about the layered evolution of buildings in response to their environment.

    He also has an interesting talk on the Long Now website.

  2. fred

    raa raa i didnt know you were from accross the pond – its centre not center

  3. Well…Hi. I enjoyed reading your blog, and would like to invite you to write for Architecture-Page.

    Get in touch if this interests you.
    mailto: collaborations [..a.t..] architecture-page [..d.o.t..] com

    Varun M Ajani

  4. I recently had the “what is interactivity?” discussion with a friend. We didn’t come up with a good answer but we both agreed that “reactive” or “responsive” in many cases better describes what people refer to as interactive. At least in the context of new media art… It’s an interesting discussion, I’m looking forward to more posts on this topic.

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