Everything Is Architecture

Hans Hollein (Bau 1/2 – 1968)

Limited and traditional definitions of architecture and its means have lost their validity. Today the environment as a whole is the goal of our activities—and all the media of its determination: TV or artificial climate, transportation or clothing, telecommunication or shelter.

The extension of the human sphere and the means of its determination go far beyond a built statement. Today everything becomes architecture. “Architecture” is just one of many means, is just one possibility.

Man creates artificial conditions. This is Architecture. Physically and psychically man repeats, transforms, expands his physical and psychical sphere. He determines “environment” in its widest sense.

According to his needs and wishes he uses the means necessary to satisfy these needs and to fulfill these dreams. He expands his body and his mind. He communicates.

Architecture is a medium of communication.

Man is both—self-centered individual and part of a community. This determines his behavior. From a primitive being, he has continuously expanded himself by means of media which were thus themselves expanded.

Man has a brain. His senses are the basis for perception of the surrounding world. The means for the definition, for the establishment of a (still desired) world are based on the extension of these senses.

These are the media of architecture—architecture in the broadest sense.

To be more specific, one could formulate the following roles and definitions for the concept “Architecture”:

Architecture is cultic; it is mark, symbol, sign, expression.

Architecture is control of bodily heat—protective shelter.

Architecture is determination—establishment—of space, environment.

Architecture is conditioning of a psychological state.

For thousands of years, artificial transformation and determination of man’s world, as well as sheltering from weather and climate, was accomplished by means of building. The building was the essential manifestation and expression of man. Building was understood as the creation of a three-dimensional image of the necessary as spatial definition, protective shell, mechanism and instrument, psychic means and symbol. The development of science and technology, as well as changing society and its needs and demands, has confronted us with entirely different realities. Other and new media of environmental determination emerge.

Beyond technical improvements in the usual principles, and developments in physical “building materials” through new materials and methods, intangible means fa spatial determination will also be developed. Numerous tasks and problems will continue to be solved traditionally, through building, through “architecture”. Yet for many questions is the answer still “Architecture” as it has been understood, or are better media not available to us?

Architects have something to learn in this respect from the development of military strategy. Had this science been subject to the same inertness as architecture and its consumers, we would still be building fortification walls and towers. In contrast, military planning left behind its connection to building to avail itself of new possibilities for satisfying the demands placed upon it.

Obviously it no longer occurs to anyone to wall-in sewage canals or erect astronomical instruments of stone (Jaipur). New communications media like telephone, radio. TV, etc. are of far more import. Today a museum or a school can be replaced by a TV set. Architects must cease to think only in terms of buildings.

There is a change as to the importance of “meaning” and “effect”. Architecture affects. The way I take possession of an object, how I use it, becomes important. A building can become entirely information—its message might be experienced through informational media (press, TV, etc). In fact it is of almost no importance whether, for example, the Acropolis or the Pyramids exist in physical reality, as most people are aware of them through other media anyway and not through an experience of their own. Indeed, their importance—the role they play—is based on this effect of information.

Thus a building might be simulated only. An early example of the extension of buildings through media of communication is the telephone booth —a building of minimal size extended into global dimensions. Environments of this kind more directly related to the human body and even more concentrated in form are, for example, the helmets of jet pilots who, through telecommunication, expand their senses and bring vast areas into direct relation with themselves. Toward a synthesis and to an extreme formulation of a contemporary architecture leads the development of space capsules and space suits. Here is a “house”—far more perfect than any building—with a complete control of bodily functions, provision of food and disposal of waste, coupled with a maximum al mobility.

These far-developed physical possibilities lead us to think about psychic possibilities of determinations of environments. After shedding the need of any necessity of a physical shelter at all, a new freedom can be sensed. Man will now finally be the center of the creation of an individual environment.

The extension of the media of architecture beyond pure tectonic building and its derivations first led to experiments with new structures and materials, especially in railroad construction. The demand to change and transport our “environment” as quickly and easily as possible forced a first consideration of a broad range of materials and possibilities—of means that have been used in other fields for ages. Thus we have today “sewn” architecture, as we have also “inflatable” architecture. All these, however, are still material means, still “building materials”.

Little consequent experimentation has been undertaken to use nonmaterial means (like light, temperature or smell) to determine an environment, to determine space. As the use of already existing methods has vast areas of application, so could the use of the laser (hologram) lead to totally new determinations and experiences. Finally, the purposeful use of chemicals and drugs lo control body temperature and body functions as well as to create artificial environments has barely started. Architects have to stop thinking in terms of buildings only.

Built and physical architecture, freed from the technological limitations of the past, will more intensely work with spatial qualities as well as with psychological ones. The process of “erection” will get a new meaning, spaces will more consciously have haptic, optic, and acoustic properties, and contain informational effects while directly expressing emotional needs.

A true architecture of our time will have to redefine itself and expand its means. Many areas outside traditional building will enter the realm of architecture, as architecture and “architects” will have to enter new fields.

All are architects. Everything is architecture.

Everything Is Architecture – Hans Holle…

Anastasia Kubrak – User-Agent: If everything is so smooth, why am I so sad?

Citizens are slowly transforming into mere users due to the political structure of digital products and platforms.

Users have no agency in deciding on the form/function of these new products. They are left with a feedback button. Due to convenience and scale of existing apps like Uber, it only makes sense for the user to use them.

By default, since profit-motivated organizations have control over these platforms, they will treat citizens like users, mining and selling data to advertising companies with little-to-no consent.

Users have lost the understanding of participation outside of consumption feedback loops. The most praxis that can be enacted is through rating your Uber driver/Airbnb host. The user is stripped of their political agency. The agency of citizen-consumers is limited by the choices offered to them which seem democratic but to which they have no power to override these choices. It is a pseudo-democracy. We are given a simplified and restricted form of citizenship.

We need more cross-fertilization between technical and political fields to yield democratically responsible workers and critical thinkers.

Weaponized Design
Finding blind spots in an interface that can be used against the individual or community.

Design is always political and not inherently good. Only when we critically examine the team's design process can we know how the overarching framework is authored. If an algorithm harms its users, the fault is assigned to whoever wrote the algorithm.

Before, interface designers collaborated with cognitive and behavioural psychologists. Today UX designers no longer require that background. Does the democratization of UX design have harmful effects on the user?

Designing is similar to psychological testing. We use similar techniques on users in a way to see how we could get an ideal user to engage with or buy something on the platform.

Cybernetics is a science concerned with automatic control systems – systems for managing complexity and unpredictability, and dealing with behavioural, environmental and interactional concerns between autonomous agents.

Today, our cities resemble cybernetic feedback loops between the people and their habitat. People consume space through technology and the space consumes and produces new versions of people.

Measuring/sensing behaviour, profiling the citizen/user, and intervening are the stages of economic surveillance implemented in urban space.

An ambient mix of marketing and surveillance causes these feedback loops. Positive self-reinforcing feedback loops capture and trap the user in the frame of their own preferences.

Ex. Consumer uses credit card in a store --> reveals purchase history to a credit agency --> This, at aggregate, leads to a reorganization of the store's layout to incentivize purchases.

By being a consumer you are also the ambient co-designer of the store interior.

Fiction is not a design project. Design is about narrating the future while accounting for all outcomes.

The platform sees users not as personas or archetypes but as individual profiles whose attributes/data are temporary and dynamically changing, constantly.

State <> Citizen vs Platform <> User

A citizen is a body whose attributes can be read by the state. Citizen and state know the same information.

User's attributes can be analyzed much deeper by a platform. The user does not know everything the platform knows about them.

A citizen has control over the narration of its own identity to the state whereas users are not always aware of when or why they are being labelled.

Soft Biopolitics – Assigning types to user profiles

Today, users have a choice of who they share data with and the identity they create. For example, using a VPN to access restricted content. But they cannot control who owns their data or what they will do with it.

The user exists in a centralized, closed environment of a platform and has no democratic voice.

Platforms optimize their users to 'perform' and get the most out of the tools/functions. The constant state of optimization has a direct effect on the user's mental health. Neoliberalism forces people to become users in order to even be recognized or to exist in a city. You can't avoid being a user.

Today the city is in need of a user that is aware of their position, admits to sadness, but feels opportunistic to bend the environment it inhabits and demand alternative models. A user that doesn't merely give feedback but intervenes in feedback loops: an autonomous user-agent.

Anastasia Kubrak – User-Agent: If every…