Open Source Architecture Workshop
Doors of Perception 8, New Delhi, 18-20 March 2005
The workshop ended on March 20, 2005.
For information and images of the event, please click here.
Below is the brief as originally provided to the participants.
The workshop described here will focus on using low-tech materials (e.g. garbage bags to create inflatables), encouraging the user-as-creative-participant and reappropriating existing devices (e.g. umbrellas and desk fans) to create choreographies of interaction.
One way of thinking about the design of space is to consider it as an "operating system". Just as computers are a combination of "hardware" (the physical box, chips and keyboard) and "software" (the codes and programmes that bring the box to life) so too can architecture be considered as a combination of hard stuff (the walls, roofs and floors) and soft stuff (the smells, sounds, thermal and social phenomena that animate a space).
We can stretch the analogy of "operating system" a little further. In computers there are different kinds of operating system, ranging from Windows, thru Mac and Unix to Linux. These operating systems differ not only in having different features and interfaces, they are also based on different ideas of openness. Linux is a type of operating system that falls under the category of "open source" - unlike other operating systems, the source code at the heart of the Linux system is open to anyone to view, modify and upgrade as necessary, with the requirement that any such revisions be equally "open" and available to all. This metaphor suggests territory that might be interesting explore in the production of space. To apply such a notion of "openness" to the design of a "spatial" operating system requires two main strategies. The first is that the space in question must somehow be open to all to be interpreted, inhabited, appropriated and redesigned. The second is that the tools for making these interpretations, inhabitations, appropriations and redesigns must be equally open.
Such a space is designed to encourage the interactions of its occupants and is only truly given meaning when people take an active role in configuring the space.
Part 1 - Experiments with low-tech
- Inflatable/Infloatable: creating large inflatables using garbage bags, cellotape and old desk fans, participants will be able quickly to transform both interior and exterior spaces. If helium is easily accessible these will be transformed into floatables (leaky though they may be). What happens to these forms over time? And how might this affect or be affected by the interactions of people in those spaces?
- Power source: how can predatory power sources be employed, e.g. a device that holds on to the legs of passers-by and generates energy through their attempts to extricate themselves.
Part 2 - Reappropriating existing devices
- Cellular automata umbrellas: often regarded as "digital" devices (in the sense that they are either open or closed), participants will experiment with using them in both these states but also the "analog" states in between - half closed, almost open, etc. They will experiment with them further, first as "shields" (from the rain, the sun, information, interaction) and then as "collectors" (amplifying sound). Finally, complex group behaviour will be examined by looking at how a simple open-close algorithm at the individual level can affect the global state as a whole.
- Participant suggestions: at this stage participants will be encouraged to develop their own ideas for reappropriating devices. The outcome of this will depend entirely on what they find around their schools, streets and homes.
Part 3 - Choreographies of interaction
- Designer/User vs. Performer/audience: movements in art have challenged the distinction between audience and performer for the last 50 years, however designers (architects in particular) have been slow to pick up on such challenges. This experiment will explore how "open" choreographies allow for both a "meta-control" and freedom for the "creative participants". Devices from previous experiments might be employed (e.g. umbrellas or inflatables) to question how to design the process of design. How "free" is "openness"? If a system is completely "open" then how can any movement be made?
- Final interaction sequence: a final "performance" will be created collaboratively with the entire group that brings together all the various things they have designed/experienced in the series of experiments.
- Open Source Architecture experiment
- Previous workshop at Pixelache, 2004
- Previous workshop at RAM 4, 2003
- Overview of open source architecture
- Inflatables at KTH, Sweden (courtesy Aether Architecture)
- More inflatables at KTH, Sweden
- Inflatables at IDII, Italy
- Inflatables by Michael Rakowitz
- Inflatables for rock concerts
- Pink Floyd pig inflatable
- More on open source architecture