2. THE PROBLEM

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Buildings don’t adapt well. “When we deal with buildings, we deal with decisions taken long ago for remote reasons. We argue with anonymous predecessors and lose. Stewart Brand”
A building is often thought of in terms of a static, solidary, unmovable mass. Some architects live for the belief that a building might survive after them, “The building is the Architect’s play-thing (Alexander)”.

“They‘re designed not to adapt, also budgeted and financed not to, constructed not to, administered not to, maintained not to, regulated and taxed not to. Even remodelled not to. (Brand)”
They do adapt though. Whether we like it or not, buildings will change. At times, it’s gradual and natural other times, through brute force as an ongoing battle between building and occupant.

Brand presents in his television program the Palazzo Public, a building that he argues has adapted well because it has been given the unique circumstances to do so. It “grew into its glory” over the span of 500 years, evolving to suit the needs of its occupants at the time.
On the other hand, Le Corbusier suggested that people should adapt their lives to suit his modernist buildings. Despite his best efforts, Le Corbusier home owners don’t share the same draconian view and have adapted their homes to meet their own lifestyles.
Change is inevitable in all facets of life and Architecture is no exception. The rigidity of building materials may fool us into believing that it has some unshakable permanence, but it is an illusion.

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When dealing with the built environment over time, it is important to think of a building, not as a single entity but instead as a series of parts, each subjected to their own individual timelines.
Frank Duffy goes as far as to argue there is no such thing as a building, rather, a series of layers of built components varying in degrees of longevity.
Duffy broke these ‘layers’ into four different components. Starting from outside inward they are:
• Shell – The structure, lasts the lifetime of the buildings. 50 years.
• Services – Cabling, plumbing, AC etc. 15 years.
• Scenery – Layout, partitions. 5-7 years.
• Set – Furniture. Weeks or Months.
These figures are of course subject to change based on location , use and many other external factors. Regardless, all buildings will adapt.
Brand echoes Duffy’s sentiments of time by providing his own expanded time layers that incorporate all levels of modern-day society:
• Fashion
• Commerce
• Infrastructure
• Governance
• Culture
• Nature
Brand appropriately calls any changes to the above time scales “shock” and, like Duffy explains that each level or layer will respond differently.
“Fast learns, slow remembers.
Fast proposes, slow disposes.”

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The New South Wales Architecture Registration board have conveniently provided for those who seek design advice regarding what is and is not in the scope of an Architect’s responsibilities:
• Briefing discussions to clarify your requirements.
• Sketch designs to explore possibilities; usually including some cost options.
• Design development to produce detailed drawings and selection of materials, fittings etc and associated cost.
• Contract documentation produces technical drawings and specifications to obtain a planning and building permit, invite tenders, and for use in construction.
During the construction phase:
• Liaise with the builder to assess quality of work at key stages and ensure that contract and specifications are complied with.
• Keep you informed of progress.
• Approve, with you, any variations
• Certify progress payments
• Identify defects and administer their rectification
• Decide when practical completion occurs for occupancy.
There is no mention of any obligations that an Architect has to their clients after the completion of a building. Architects don’t want to revisit their buildings (Brand) whether it is for financial or superficial reasons, only one in ten architects will feel obligated to return to their buildings.
It would appear that Architects do not believe the problem of building adaptability falls to them (if they acknowledge there is a problem in the first place.)
But is it the Architect’s fault that buildings don’t adapt well? Should an architect be charged with the challenge to meet the changing and expanding needs of a single client over the span of 50 years ? Is it fair to ask an Architect to design a building that can respond to fluctuating markets, new technologies the ficklety of fashion as defined in Brand’s time diagram above? Let alone if a building were to change occupancy and use?
Well considered design can lead to the foundations for buildings to adapt well, but it is impossible to have the foresight to have a building that will perform exactly to all its current user’s needs throughout its lifetime.
A building should never be finished.

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PRESSURE - the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object. Pressure sensors can be embedded into the physical environment in the likes of doors or floors or any element that experiences physical force. It can be used to gauge the position of people on floors to aid in way-finding or to monitor if someone were to fall to the floor in an accident.

PRESSURE

PRESSURE

BLUETOOTH -A wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances. Most Internet of Things devices will have a sensor like Bluetooth to provide the link between objects, people, elements and the data server (usually the cloud) . Bluetooth (or wifi/cellular) provides the link between objects and is what connects the built environment to the internet.

BLUETOOTH

BLUETOOTH

TIME - the indefinite continued progress  Time is a 'broad' sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor   the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive   built environment.

TIME

TIME – the indefinite continued progress Time is a ‘broad’ sensor. All sensors will record time, as well as respond to time. Time sensors used to monitor the sequence in which elements are used allows elements to anticipate their use, creating a highly responsive built environment.

MOTION - the act or process of changing position or place.  Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or   the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these   objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to   switch on.

MOTION

MOTION – the act or process of changing position or place. Motion sensors are used to detect and analyse either the type of movement a person makes within a space or the movement of a person through a space. Motion can be relayed onto other objects and inform how these objects operate, for example, a wall measuring the motion of someone when they awake triggering the lights to switch on.

SOUND - vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person's   or animal's ear.  Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to   activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be   triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

SOUND

SOUND – vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear. Sound sensors are used to measure noise levels across a range of frequencies. Sound sensors can be used to activate security measures, for example, if elements register a sound such as glass breaking, an alarm could be triggered. Sound sensors could also be sensitive enough to sense vibration alerting of foundation movement.

RFID – (radio frequency identification) - the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

RFID

RFID – (radio frequency identification) – the wireless use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. RFID tags are used in a similar manner to barcodes, to record and track the usage and locations of possessions. Unlike a barcode, the tag contains electronically stored information, which can be transmitted to the reader from remote sites, offering greater flexibility of use.

SMOKE – a visible suspension of carbon or other particles in air, typically one emitted from a burning substance.  Smoke detectors analyse the air for smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. The sensors activate automatic   opening vents to extract the smoke from the building. When smoke is detected, an audible or visual alarm is   triggered and the emergency services are alerted.

SMOKE

SMOKE

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter.  Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by   nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to   evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

PARTICLES

PARTICLES – a minute portion of matter. Particle detectors are used to detect, track and/or identify high energy particles, such as those produced by nuclear decay or cosmic radiation. In unsafe conditions, sensors can alert people in the surrounding area to evacuate and alert the emergency services immediately.

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the   body.  Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap,   swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

TOUCH

TOUCH – the physiological sense by which external objects or forces are perceived through contact with the body. Touch sensors are used to operate elements within the built environment. Different types of touch motion i.e tap, swipe, push trigger different actions. Touch recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a  particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels   of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During   extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

WIND

WIND – the perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction. Wind meters are used to measure wind speed and direction over a certain area. If high levels of wind are detected, protection measures are triggered to improve the comfort of an environment. During extreme levels of wind, people may be instructed to evacuate or emergency services may be alerted.

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system.  Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of   individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the   user, to improve user comfort levels.

TEMPERATURE

TEMPERATURE – a measure of the average kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a system. Temperature sensors are used to monitor both the ambient temperature of a space and the temperature of individuals within that space. The sensors can trigger temperature adjustments for the whole space or local to the user, to improve user comfort levels.

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute.  Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also   potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted   immediately.

HEART RATE

HEART RATE – the number of heartbeats per unit of time, usually per minute. Heart rate monitors are used to measure the heart rate of individuals, to help identify comfort levels and also potential health risks. If an individual experiences heart problems, the emergency services can be alerted immediately.

SPEECH - the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human.  Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice   recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

SPEECH

SPEECH – the sound produced by the vocal organs of a vertebrate, especially a human. Voice commands are used to instruct elements to perform a certain task or to initiate certain events. Voice recognition allows preferences to be recorded for multiple users.

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is  Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is   detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of   a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector,   enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

FLAME

FLAME – a hot glowing body of ignited gas that is Flame sensors are used to detect and respond to the presence of a flame or fire. When a flame or fire is detected, the sensor can trigger various responses, in the form of an alarm, a sprinkler system or deactivation of a fuel line. A flame detector can often respond faster and more accurately than a smoke or heat detector, enabling immediate evacuation of an affected area.

BRIGHTNESS – the   effect  Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be   achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery   adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

BRIGHTNESS

BRIGHTNESS – the effect Light sensors are used to monitor and adjust the brightness of a space. An optimum level of illuminance can be achieved to improve user comfort or to enhance the experience of a space, for example, the lighting in a gallery adjusted to consider the level of natural daylighting.

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free.  Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger   the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency   services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

AIR QUALITY

AIR QUALITY – the degree to which air in a particular place is pollution-free. Air quality sensors sample the air regularly to analyse pollution content i.e dust, pollen, gas. The sensors trigger the extraction of pollutants to improve air quality and user comfort. The sensors can alert the user or emergency services in a case where the level of pollutant is dangerous.

WATER – a clear, colourless, odourless, and tasteless liquid, H2O, essential for most plant and animal life.  Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can   be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water   detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to   infrastructure.

WATER

WATER – a clear, colourless, Moisture sensors are used to monitor the moisture content of both natural and built elements. The sensors can be used to trigger responses to improve user comfort or safety. In natural environments, high levels or water detection can trigger a flood warning. In the built environment, early water detection can prevent water damage to infrastructure.

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes.  EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment.   Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental   conditions according to individual user preferences.

EEG

EEG – (electroencephalogram) a test that detects electrical activity in the brain using electrodes. EEGs are used to map the brain activity of individual to gauge comfort, mood and responses to the environment. Impulse responses to changes in the surrounding can be recorded and used to improve the environmental conditions according to individual user preferences.

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship.  Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements   are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is   recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an   action.

PROXIMITY

PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time, or relationship. Proximity sensors use infrared to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. Elements are able to detect the distance between themselves, other elements and individuals. When certain proximity is recorded between two elements or an element and an individual, the element is triggered to respond with an action.

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring.  Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s   movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of   each individual and of each event.

LOCATION

LOCATION – a particular place or position where something is or where something is occurring. Position sensors are used to record the location of people and objects. Sensors are able to track both individual’s movements and place-specific events, enabling the surrounding environment to alter to suit the preferences of each individual and of each event.

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals.  Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all   times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for   adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

CAMERA

CAMERA – a device for recording visual images in the form of photographs, film, or video signals. Cameras are incorporated into elements, enabling both still images and video recordings to be captured at all times. These images and recordings can be relayed instantly to other elements which are responsible for adjusting the environment, either to enhance user comfort or to improve security.

BARCODE - a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.

BARCODE

BARCODE – a machine-readable code in the form of numbers widths, printed on a commodity and used especially for stock control. Barcodes are used to scan items as they pass from one threshold to another i.e. doors, corridors, windows. The use of possessions is recorded and their locations tracked. A low stock item is replenished or redistributed accordingly.