Technology and/or senses?

Technology and/or senses?.

My first two blogs may have created the impression that I am something of a Luddite , i.e. someone who has an overall negative attitude towards technology in general. So, before proceeding, let me be clear on this: I am not. What I do think is that technology primarily should have a serving role which we can manage and control; where this concerns architecture this raises the question whether our speed and ways of implementing innovative technologies does keep up with our ability to relate these developments to our senses. After all, as humans living in a hybrid world we perceive – and act – to a large extend as individual beings who are also in part depending on innovative technologies. Architecture and man ‘depend’ on each other; we experience space – and therefore architecture – by moving through it and technology becomes an increasingly important part of that space. In his book architect Kas Oosterhuis states: “we must see all objects, including the ‘I’ and individual building components, as actors, as active players in parametric world”. (Oosterhuis, Towards a New Kind of Building, p.24) (

Many home-technologies depart from the assumption that life is about objective issues; if however we think about technology in/around our environment the first thought should be with the subjective issues; home is much more than a roof over our head. So far home-technology serves pragmatic functionalities: they recognise, automate, register actions and/or act as intermediate between man as inhabitant and his environment. All this departs from the assumption that our environment is a build, i.e. manifest/permanent structure. We still match technologies with an artificial framework which serves as a build sphere; we do not match with empty space as such.

If we rethink our place and role as humans in relation to our environment, we cannot escape rethinking what our attitude towards technology is or should become. In other words; the discussion as to what e.g. a smart/intelligent home is cannot be separated from the more fundamental question as to what technology means within our immediate intimate environment. If we can lift the physical barrier between our current public and intimate space, and determine our amount of protection/privacy by individualised technology, we become an active part of that – process of – determination. We regain control over what determines – and is experienced – as our immediate environment.

Developments, in e.g. smart materials and nanotechnology, will provide increasing possibilities to surpass our need to ‘build’ as we have done for centuries and – more important – to enhance our senses . Architects like e.g. Marcos Novak (e.g. have envisioned/created innovative designs that aim at a synthesis between smart materials and (nano)technology, thus creating adjustable, tangible environments.

In 1928 (!) Paul Valery ( ) wrote: “Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our homes from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign”. (Valery, the Conquest of Ubiquity). Valery, being a poet/philosopher, was talking primarily about arts, so one can remark that this is not about our intimate lived space. However, what we accept in art, film or theatre as a world alien to ours is an artificial/virtual world which always exists and is experienced within – the boundaries of – the real world. There is no virtual world without a real world; the first exists by the presence of the latter which will remain a fundamental and vital part of our world, while our senses will enhance our experiences in both worlds; supported by technology.

this article was published on Nov. 1st.2013 on IoT-World