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:: 14 the future of Architecture
A Platform for Consumer Driven Participative Design of Open (Source) Buildings
14 the future of Architecture 5/1/2004 2:30:35 PM

Abstract
Homes in the future will contain many new and complex activities, becoming centers for work, commerce, learning, proactive health care, distributed energy production, etc.. The baby boomer and GenX population are demanding choice and tailored solutions in all products they buy, including homes. The combination of societal and market forces will require new ways of designing, building, and integrating technologies into places of living. The housing industry, however, is poorly prepared for this future, creating mostly generic low-grade, inflexible, disruptive-to-upgrade, and high-maintenance products. Few are tailored to the unique and changing needs of its occupants. The industry lacks a process that will lead to the customization of homes that respond to the unique values and needs of occupants, and architects/engineers play no significant role in the creation of most places of living. To address these problems, I propose that a new model for design and construction that places the consumer in the center of the design process. In this model, developers become integrators offering a process for customization; architects create design engines and computational critics rather than a single design; industry provides tailored product and service information directly to the consumer at the point of decision; and fabricators receive data to manufacture customized cabinetry-like components for just-in- time delivery and assembly. To demonstrate and test the viability of this approach, I have built a participative design platform for non-experts that could be used by consumers to drive informed customization of their home. Central to this process is an interface that allows consumers to access sophisticated design tools without requiring them to think like an expert designer - providing the information and visualization needed to make informed decisions about adjacencies, form, materials, appliances, etc.. This approach could be extended to include the configuration of customized technologies and services. If adopted by industry, such a strategy could create powerful incentives for innovation.

Introduction

Situation
In the future, homes will contain the most complex activities of any building type. The home is increasingly becoming a center for work, commerce, and learning. With the pending crisis in health care, homes must become proactive environments for keeping people healthy and autonomous. In addition, the baby boomer and GenX population are demanding choice and tailored solutions in all products they buy, including their place of living [3].

Despite this convergence of market and societal pressures, the housing industry creates homes that are mostly generic low-grade, inflexible, disruptive to upgrade, high maintenance. Few are tailored to the unique and changing needs of its occupants, and architects/engineers play no significant role in the creation of most places of living. Few new homes can properly accommodate increasingly complex activities and work patterns, adapt over time as family, financial and health conditions change, and accept rapidly evolving technologies and services developed by innovative companies. Current approaches to housing fail to meet the challenges of the future. The housing industry is highly fragmented, dependent on increasingly scarce skilled labor, and only competitive locally. There are few of the incentives for innovation found in most other industries [8,9].

Problem
The industry lacks a process for tailoring the physical space, technologies, and services to respond to the unique values and needs of the resident.

Four perspectives on the problem:
Problems in the housing industry are best illustrated by viewing this from four perspectives: consumer, developer, manufacturer, and designer.

Conclusion
This work presents a new process for residential design centered on the individual - not the expert. In this model, developers become integrators offering a process for customization; architects create design engines and computational critics rather than a single design; industry provides tailored product and service information directly to the consumer at the point of decision; and fabricators receive data to manufacture customized cabinetry-like components for just-in-time delivery and assembly. To test and evaluate this work, a novel solution to object recognition and tracking has been developed. Qualitative feedback from a variety of professions indicated that this work addresses generally recognized problems in the industry, and proposed plausible, if schematic, solutions that should be further developed and evaluated.


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