Techno-Sensations: Architecture, Technology, and the Body

Course

3257a
History and Theory

Offered

Fall
2014

Since the Enlightenment, the introduction of new technologies has expanded the capacity of the human senses: audiovisual devices from the camera obscura to iPhones have enhanced the eye and ear while infrastructures like plumbing and HVAC have catered to the needs of the flesh. This class considers the architectural consequences of these technological developments and their impact on our sensory experience of space. Looking at this subject from a sociohistorical perspective, the course considers how a series of technical milestones transformed architecture and the human sensorium from the Enlightenment to the Digital Age. Topics include the symbiotic relationship between optics and the development of the camera obscura, the panorama, and the panopticon; the impact of
cinema and television on the modernist window; the impact of plumbing and climate control on domestic hygiene; the birth of modern acoustics as a response to metropolitan noise; the influence of listening devices on the modern workplace; and the impact of two generations of digital devices—desktop computers and mobile handheld devices—on human interaction in public and private space. After charting these historical developments, students speculate about the future: how can architects harness new technologies
to craft immersive multisensory environments that engage sight, hearing, and touch?