conference ‘dwelling vs. the internet of things’


Dec. 9th. 2011; a conference organised with Council and hybridLiving at V2 on the subject of Home-Sense. A full day of presentations and lectures on the questions, consequenses and possible answers regarding the relation home – technology; in particular the Internet of Things. Speakers: Rob van Kranenburg (Council), John Post (IBM), Ben van Lier (Centric), Tomasz Jaskiewicz (ONL/TUD) , Tijmen Wisman (VU) , Eric Simon Thomas (Icrest). Students from WdKA Rotterdam, section Crosslab and Interior Architecture participated.
(see also the article by Edwin Gardner, published Jan 16th. 2012 on Archined, so far only in Dutch)

introduction Martin Pot:


Good morning;

A warm welcome, everybody, in Rotterdam , welcome at V2, our most famous Institute for the Unstable Media. The choice for this location was as logic as the date:
Exactly 2 years ago, on December 9th, 2009, the first Council conference took place in Brussels; initiated and organised by Rob van Kranenburg.
To me, that day was a memorable and successful event where an international and, most of all, quite colourful variety of disciplines joined to discuss the questions, possible implications and derived answers concerning the Internet of Things.
One of the afternoon-workshops was Home-Sense; the questions and practicalities concerning our home-environment, which was continued on a smaller scale on the World-Wide IoT-day, April 9th, last year, here in Rotterdam.
Now, 2 years later, technology and subjects have developed; the attention is growing, the awareness is increasing. But; the same is true for the accompanying questions. Now that the IoT can be more or less defined – depending on who you will ask -, can be focused at relevant fields of development and implementation, now the questions can and should be articulated and properly addressed. I am therefore very happy with the presence and participation of the Willem de Kooning Academy, department Crosslab and Interior Architecture, here in Rotterdam.

The emphasis of this conference is the environment sometimes referred to as ‘home’. But, where is our home; what does it look like? Artist Daan Roosegaarde keeps telling me: ‘home is where the laptop is’. He is, by the way, now on his way to Hong Kong.
‘Home vs. the IoT’ suggests a conflict, a contradiction; two notions which are not compatible. We consider many technologies within the home-environment as alien; we accept as long as our comfort-zone is covered. We accept the automated lighting, we do not – yet – however accept a smart energy-meter. But, as someone pointed out recently: “it cannot be that technology evaluates, that the feeling of home changes but that nothing happens with the experience people have with that?” (thank you, Ben)
I would like to quote philosopher Hermann Schmitz here;
“Dwelling is the cultivation of feelings in an enclosed space, that is, a way of interacting with these environments that overflow into physical space and effect us in a bodily way, in order to avoid being affected in a merely passive sense, by making these environments intimate, familiar, to a certain extend adaptable”
Should we extrapolate these words into today’s situation we could remark with architect prof. Kas Oosterhuis: “We must see all objects, including the ‘I’, and individual building components, as actors, as active players in a parametric world.”
But if everything around us is data, is connected: can we still disconnect? What is life in a parametric world, who are we in a parametric world?

Between 1956 and 1974 the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys worked on ‘New Babylon’; a visionary society largely based on Huizinga Homo Ludens. Man did not have to work anymore and could abide time in play and creativity. The architecture he created to facilitate this vision resulted in models, beautiful drawings and paintings. Constant did not consider his plans utopian but realisable! The environmental circumstances and the technology he envisioned are in fact still actual and maybe even more realisable than in his days; besides, he was well aware of the fact that he needed computers to realise his adaptable environments.
In a fine article by prof. Jos de Mul the connection is made between Constant’s visionary project and a database: rephrased as ‘database architecture’.
In 1998 in Witte de With – just around the corner – an exhibition was held on the project of New Babylon: from Mark Wigley’s accompanying great book ’the Hyper-architecture of Desire’:
“The macro-structure houses a moveable interior structure. The different floors will be divided into neighbouring and communicating spaces, artificially conditioned, which will offer the possibility of creating an infinite variety of ambience.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, was some 50 years ago……..

To dwell means to be ‘at peace in one place’, according to Heidegger. Le Corbusier, nine years before him in 1942, noted that: man dwells badly, and that is the reason for all upheavals in time. However, home is no tabula rasa; so can the internet of things facilitate a dwelling which creates, shapes, an environment that provides trust, softens the barrier between public space and private space; between being at home – no matter where – and being out there?
Architecture – and to my opinion therefore interior architecture, is the record of a process, not
the result of a process. Architecture, to use the beautiful phrase by Tomasz Jaskiewicz, , should be a dance with the environment.
Today we will discuss these matters, we will be updated on the current state of affairs and, most important of all, discuss developments and possibilities. This morning will handle the philosophy, the background, the actual situation; this afternoon will handle our environment, privacy, the design.
Let us remind the words of Jaron Lanier: “It’s only human choice that makes the world function. Technology can motivate human choice, but not replace it”

This day, from this moment on, is in the experienced hands of our moderator Rob van Kranenburg, who will also deliver the first presentation.
Rob, the floor is yours.
Thank you.