Approaching the virtual - A human centred architecture

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 Ark A
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Humans, on a fundamental level, live not to survive but to explore, to gather knowledge and ask questions about ourselves and the world. Their development is as part of a habitat; they grow from it and have direct influence over it, in an emerging vortex of becoming. When the territory is known, when everything is interconnected, and there is no outside left to explore, to imagine, the vortex stagnates into a circle of imitation, into simulacra. Fortunately, this absolute condition is not part of the nature of reality. There is always a realm of the undiscovered, the unthought, the source of all emergence and becoming, called the virtual. Architects, as humans who shape and manipulate habitats, must first of all be aware of the limitations and aspirations of the human nature, of themselves and the others who inhabit architecture. Considering the intertwined bond between human and habitat, architects have the role of exposing us to the edge of the virtual, to incite external forces and invite them into our perception, and to uncover the outside within the apparently known territory, arousing the multiplicity of the human condition. Architecture is to be under constant interrogation to adjust to and mediate our becoming. While it shelters the body, it also needs to provoke it, to confront it with exterior forces, with whimsical and imaginative worlds. To keep itself emergent, architecture has to situate itself at the boundary, exposed to other disciplines and to the transformations taking place in the layers of the actual. A branch of architecture which inherently lives on the edge is virtual architecture. It embodies different mediums, drawing, text, film, digital, to create a habitat performed through the imagination of its visitors. Virtual architecture has the potential of unbounded critical experimentation, turning the perspective back on the reflection of what reality and the human truly are. This thesis explores human-centred architecture at a fundamental level, searching for the ways our habitat can enable the unexpected. I examine the prospect of an architecture for the virtual in the current fabric of the actual, taking advantage of the fluidity and nomadism of the digitised culture. I analyse the intimate relation humans have with the environment, the factors which influence our perception of space and our ability to affect the world around us. The thesis culminates into an examination of architecture at the limit between physical and digital, employing virtual reality and motion sensing input devices to reflect on the fluid boundary between human and habitat. I see architecture as a celebration, as a mediator between us and the world to live fully, passionately, to rediscover the vigour of our being, to dream and imagine, to operate at the edge.
Kotnik, Toni
Thesis advisor
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virtual, human-centred, digital, neoliberalism, folding, complexity, phenomenology, architecture
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