Thursday, September 24, 2009

The story that sparked the Open Information Campus - Thesis

In one the first posts in this thesis-blog I spoke of a young Malawian boy that could not go to school and through reading pictures he learnt how to make a windmill, bloggers and journalist spread his story. this is his TED talk about his inspiration to learn and gain information otherwise inaccessible to him.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Interior Spatial Experience

Here is an early animated sketch.
The sketch here that describes what the internal exprience of the "open campus/ information market" might feel like and how it may differ from that of a library.

Monday, August 17, 2009

From the Iconic Object to the De-Institutionalized Library

Archigram, the 1960 Architectural and Urban Think-tank, conceptualised the travelling city, "A circus of Ideas" that like an air balloon would travel from one city to the next parading a specific theatre of urban cultures, cafes, museums and information from one urban experience (say.. New york City) to another city context (say London, or India) therefor re-creating that information intensive city enviroment momentarily in another city.

The concept expresses a foresight into today networked society where our world in networked and cultures and people share their experiences over the world-wide-web. Information travels, it is fluid, and experience motivated. Like the "Circus of Ideas" the new knowledge incubator (library) could be an urban experience, like a campus, where u drop-in for an immersive information extravaganza or retreat, and then leave again.

Thus it is worth conceptually breaking down the tradition instutional library archetype, briefly described below.
The institutional Iconic Object (university library / or private library) contained behind the block, and within walls of security.

The modern public library - opaque, revealing the activity, showcases knowledge, and linked to a public space.

Utopian Concept 1: The de-institutionalized object OPTION 1, exposed, no walls, direct extension to public space, free platform of knowledge, yet contained under roof as a symbol (primal shelter)
Utopian Concept 2: The de-institutionalized object OPTION 2, The broken-down Icon, scattered buildings, smaller, less intimidating, experience like a city, direct reltionship to threshold and public space is made more intimate and accidental. Similar to a campus, small dedicated buildings of information.

First Building Concpet : an amalgamation of the two de-institutionalized library concepts. Ramped public space, mini campus, direct feed to public platform, open yet secured, city like experience, intimate, both flexible and semi-rigid spaces.

Program Development : Spatial connectivity and Flow

The Program and Areas were furthur divided and placed in order as per the relationship study (previous post). The program was divided as follows, Knowledge Incubator (library anchor), Information Creche (kids) Business Ramp, Study Ramp, Leisure Ramp, Sharing-Info Ramp, Accidental Ramp (public space), and Ammenities.
After ordering, the program is ramped, with a hierarchical flow from flexible to semi-rigid spaces.

Areas massing/proportions diagram
Stacked program massing

Building Program Development - An Open Information Campus (and Public Library)

This Diagram describes the position of the building. Its need adresses public knowledge gain, and the aspects that affect the current knowledge access presented by the traditional library.

Mapping Study: of uses of internet cafe in informal unemployed settlements (in South Africa Kliptown Township (Soweto) and Yeoville Suburb)

Program Development from uses study of Internet Cafe

Program spatial association - what works with what? Conclusion: Business program (pink) buffered by study spaces (black line), and the study spaces linked to a Leisure zone (beige). The leisure is buffered by a social spaces that spill out to "accidental" or public spaces (grey)

A pogram hybrid: Library spaces, Internet Cafe needs, and public space qualities. All tied to an Information anchor (library)

First Thoughts - Designing a New Knowledge Platform

This is the early (not edited) table of contents of my dissertation paper. It describes the full circle thinking of how I began my thinking and how I hope to end it with the design of a building that facilitates the idea of a theatre of knowledge or rather an OPEN INFORMATION CAMPUS, that is semi-contained within the confines of a building/architecture.

above are some of the first diagrams drawn up in discussions with librarians and practising architects about the concept of an "open source" building that speaks of a new open source information landscape that we have entered into in the last 100 years... these initial thinkings as described in the previous post (video) are represented in diagrams that describe plan, form, and flow.

The Thinker - Historically we contemplated in retreat, silence, solitude, and within our own mind. We solved problems in isolation, deep thought, and through introverted reflection.
In an age of twittering, blogging, social networking, and sophisticated work-place networks, global science networks, and mass-participation and collaboration, (and TED talks ) information is exchanged via a networked world. Thinkers, and problem solvers are inter-connected and the exchange of information is fluid and globally systematic. We solve and question our world today together as a global info-community. Bringing problems closer to solutions through mass collaboration.

This image is a word- graphic map of my thinking from Information, to structure.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Searching for to a New Knowledge Platform?

This small clip is a discussion and crit I had with two practicing architects, Dirk Bahmann and Sarah Calburn from Sarah Calburn Architects.

Moving quickly into the design phase of a building that promotes the awareness and participation with new information technologies, knowledge gain, and innovation, in a developing context.

I have began to discuss the notion of what space or platform is appropriate for the design of an information and knowledge building. An architectural exploration that began by learning from the archetype of the tradition library, yet it begins to push and pull the concepts of space-making, public space,and recreational space, into a de-institutionalized model that recognized the flexibility, social interaction and comfort that the informal market place can achieve (much like the nature of digital information today re- ETHER).

This early discussion focuses on breaking down the icon of a typical building block, and explores the organic diagram of how spaces and programming can be connected while still being jelly-like and flexible, such that the building becomes more like a village, or open campus that highlights new technologies, and remains still focused on referencing the nostalgic experiences of a library space or book store. Still big gestures for know, but this will be narrowed down into a building soon. Will keep you up to date, with context in the next post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thesis introduction animation: the next Library?

What is a library when 'everywhere is here'?
This fun architectural animation explores the question of the role of the public library when digital information is everywhere and is everything.
What happens to the spaces of books?
and how should traditional spaces of information change for a digital world?
Even better... in the developing world, how could the library nurture an information society, when people don't have access at home?
Could the future of the library be an urban information bar?
or a theatre of knowledge?
and what does that really mean anyway?

A Hole in the Wall - Public Interface Experiment

An IT executive, whose offices were in the slums of India, experimented by putting a computer in the office's perimeter wall. The poor and marginalized community have little to no access to the internet and computers. The experiment was a hit, and he observed how the youth took control, thought themselves to use the computer and browse the net and then showed their friends. The projects growth around the developing country quickly inspired the film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.
The project is an amazing look at the effects of public interface and how social interaction takes place around a computer.

For more about the project here are two links:

In South Africa, a project called the 'Digital Doorway' (DD) has recently launched and was inspired by the Hole in the Wall experiment in India. The DD is a more robust computer and is placed in extremely rural and isolated areas for small communities.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Future of the surface?

What will 'surface' mean in the future, is everthing a screen?

Interactive Architecture

Exploring the concept of playing with information and architecture for the application of tomorrow's library as an immersive theatre of knowledge unlike any experience we have on our home PC's or cell-phones. What can a library offer in today's information age so that it may re-invent itself. These video's are worth thinking about.

Bloomberg ICE (Klein Dytham Architects):


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Virtual Cloud as a Facade Metaphor

As I further my writing, I have been exploring the metaphor of 'Ether' to describe the nature of the virtual flow of digital data. Digital data or virtual data exists today by way of the internet, wireless, wifi, and TCP Packets. These Information Technologies are perpetuating the concept of that 'everywhere is here' and information exists like a cloud of ether that surrounds us and we can tap into it from anywhere. As the design phase of my project approaches, I will be exploring metaphors for representing an age of digital information and a knowledge society. Toyo Ito, in his personal writings and building the Sendai Mediatheque, was one of the first Architects to explore architectonic representation for the Information Age. I have been aware of wind-generated Kinetic facade design, and believe the two projects below to be a very good examples of execution. The design of kinetic facade for me makes for a very appropriate response to the metaphor of the 'ether'. I will explore this type of facade further.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Interactive Children's Library

In response to the previous blog post, where I use the metaphor of scratch and sniff - The film below showcases a library that incorporates physical interaction and physical spaces with digital interfaces and electronic information as means to stimulate and educate children the way they like to - playing!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Today’s Question: How Can the Architecture of the Information Age Interface and Educate a particular Culture of Use?

In response to Information Age in a Developing Context, I have set my thesis Question as: How Can the Architecture of the Information Age Interface and Educate a particular Culture of Use?

Someone can tell you, “Lavender smells like nausea and modern cosmetics”. An Online Encyclopedia can tell you it’s a mix of soothing mint, crisp basil, and a relaxing vanilla aroma, but do you then really know what lavender smells like or have you just learnt it? In the 1980’s children would swop small pieces of paper called ‘Scratch ‘n Sniff’, that allowed them to physically scratch a piece of paper thereby removing a micro-fragrance coating that released a faint odor. This basic product incorporated a physical contact that provided kids with mystery, engagement and education by interaction. The invisible virtual world of information and the World Wide Web is like a plethora of people telling you what lavender smells like.

At present we observe a world that is 100 years into the Information Age (Castells, M. 2004). Characterised by new Information and communication technologies the Information Environment is still in its infancy and is “ferociously Darwinian” in its development ( Mitchell, W. J. 1997). Progressive Information Technologies are constantly evolving and mutating, and if communities do not evolve with it they face being left behind ( Wilson, E. J. 2004). Architecture and urbanism must see this evolution as an integrated experience into the daily lives of the public instilling a culture of use and awareness ( Mitchell, W. J. 1997:4). It is important to see how the current forms of Information transference, storage and access exist in virtual realm, an invisible world that both surrounds us and eludes us. A problem occurs where this lack of physical presence manifests an invisible barrier between form and function, or rather between possibility and use.
Architecture has always imbued a relationship with the sciences and the human senses through a ‘sensorial dimension’ ( Picon, A. 2003:295). In other words, “science and technology only meet when they both contribute to the cultural construction of perception.” ( Picon, A. 2003:295). Architecture and its relationship to public space are concerned with a material-form existing in the ‘real’ (built environment). We can see it, touch it and engage with it as a physical experience. In the Information Age, Architectural form must offer its components to interface between the physical and virtual, linking information technology to new spatial programs, surfaces, experiences, and public functions ( Witte, R. 2002:72). The Civic Library as an archetype for public resource and information access plays a significant role in educating and nurturing the Information Society. The role of the public resource centre in the Information Age goes beyond providing the surface of a screen - it must update, physically interact and stimulate a culture of knowledge and innovation that is both relevant and progressive thinking. We must become a scratch and sniff information society.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Future Question: What did Google mean for Architecture?

I have asked myself, What Happens when Everywhere is Here?

“In our lifetime we are going from not everyone being able to communicate to almost everyone being able to, from not everyone having access to a library to almost everyone having access to the world’s knowledge” Eric Smidt, Google CEO

Before now obtaining Information was like picking up pebbles on a private beach – if you were a member. You could hold it in your hand, fill your pockets with pebbles, take them home and go back for more. These pebbles were heavy, different shapes and sizes and your coat could only hold so many. Today Information is the ocean – liquid, and fluid. We can float on its surface and swim deep into its depths of discovery. It is formless and weightless and accessible by anyone.

In years from now, Built Environment institutions may ask their students ‘What did Google mean for Architecture?’, As one might look back today at the Industrial era and observe the effects of ubiquitous machining and industry in the creation of the modernist experience and modernist form, when answering this question future architectural students will look back at the 21st Century and examine the effects of the digital age of information systems on the city, its buildings, space-making, and the archetype functions of spatial programs - ‘What became of the public library when access to knowledge was instant and everywhere?’ In gathering these traces, students and historians will formulate a timeline illustrating how architectural form and programming altered, evolved, adapted, and sometimes completely disintegrated in order to accommodate new forms of information access, communication technologies, and digital interfaces in the rip-curl current of the information revolution - that is now.

Here is an interesting video that explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information today..

Here is a preview of how Standford University Library is digitizing content for the future of Libraries..

Monday, April 6, 2009

Third World Data-Information Visualised

Hans Rosling, Anthropologist and statistics guru, visualizes information using his new program 'gapminder' in a way that helps you see the worlds growth and status like never before. Beautiful and incredibly insightful. See here visually what previously was only translated as numbers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Moving Windmills - a story of innovation

This is a touching Short film (6min) - It is about a Young Malawian, with very little to no access to information (knowledge) He "re-invents the wheel" so to speak, creating technology in his own way that already exists but he has no access to it. what is interesting here from my angle is how he learns from images where text is unavailable or is illegible (due to illiteracy or lack of availability). Imagine you gave this guy access to the world's knowledge, and how to use it. possible innovations? - unimaginable.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Laptop Per Child

I thought this would make a good starting point for the blog, here are two video's promoting the incredible concept and initiative of Nicholas Negroponte's 'One Laptop Per Child' (OLPC) initiative aimed at providing less privileged communities and their children access to the world's knowledge and immense opportunities for education.
Here is the Official Site:

One Laptop per Child : Zimi's Story FULL

OLPC Mission

First Writings

In a developing city, access to the world's knowledge through the internet could stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship, new models of individual and community learning and perpetuate economic growth.

While, politics, economics, and infrastructure are key role players in developing systems for the correct use of Information Technologies and all communications in a city, Architecture or space-making has a role and opportunity in the communication of these developments to the public realm and could provide an extended platform of interaction, participation, transparency and communication that may propagate the creation of an urban culture of knowledge and innovation.
The purpose of the thesis is to explore the tremendous opportunities for innovation and advancement that the technologies of the information revolution might offer to the future of architecture and space making in an intelligent city. Where architecture recognises the need for a culture of technology in what is increasingly being called the Knowledge Society. The nurturing of a culture of knowledge/technology may act as a catalyst for economic advancement, public interest and innovation and new increased socio-spatial communication in an urban context.
By outlining the cultural, spatial and institutional constraints presented by a developing country’s existing systems and mentalities, I hope to identify what manoeuvrability there is for innovation in the creation of architectural space that best represents and explores the age of Technology and Information and notably in the context of an African developing city.
The Information Revolution and the implementation of its technologies into cities and societies is treated only as a economic and infrastructural exercise that assumes that this invisible technology will be understood and accepted at full potential by the public (end-user). Two problems surface at first glance: the first being the absence of the ‘real’ in observing and dissemination of the ‘virtual’ technology. What I mean here is that most new information technologies and their associated data are invisible. This Information ether only manifests itself through media interfaces and screens. There is need to represent these specific technologies physically and spatially where participation is on a more physically tectonic, interactive, and observable level. The second and most topical in this thesis is that of our social culture toward information and technology.
The term Culture of Technology is used here to characterize the nature of the challenges faced by developing countries and an increasing age of fast-changing technology. It also suggests a higher level of difficulty compared to just the transfer of technological hardware. The latter is mechanized and pre-determined while the former is organic and open-ended and may require a deeper level of unconscious and conscious engagement. Space-making or Architecture could be seen as the vital large scale physical manifestation that can curb the 2 problems outlined above. Where “Architecture is the built form of our cultural ambitions” (Reed Kroloff) it has the ability to tell stories, express messages, be playful, educate, and be communicative and socially interactive thus stimulating the public participator or even passer-by into the creation of a particular culture of use. Architecture sees the point of contact with the public in an urban environment and it is at this point that Information Technology could be innovative and apply more ‘real’ human activity.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Welcome Note

Hi Everyone, or no-one.

Welcome to my digital thoughts and ramblings.

This Blog will document and map my viral research and findings as I process, respond, and compile my thesis. The intent of this blog is to both share my information and research process with the online community, as well as provide a platform to receive input from anyone and no-one. I will post whatever I find along the way that is interesting, whether it will feature in my thesis or not. Because this is a Viral blog (containing internet data) it will comprise of mainly Video Content, Links to Articles, Images, and my thoughts.

Feel free to comment or observe in silence. I will update as much as I can along the way if the sh*t doesn't hit the fan to early.

let's begin.