↑ top

ARCH 509 – Becoming Digital


Everyday, our physical world becomes further enmeshed with a digital one. Devices and environments that were once passive now listen, sense, record, communicate, and learn. But network technologies don't simply reshape our surroundings, they also reshape us - as both designers and users. As designers, we work in teams, with experts from other fields, and with tools that imbricate legions of programmers, algorithms, and bandwidth. Design is a collaboration of people and technology. We labor within an ecology of media that defines not only how we work, but increasingly how we think, behave, and relate to one another. If buildings are plugged in, then so are we.

This new reality presents an urgent and fundamental challenge for designers and architects. For the moment most buildings are inert and unconnected, but increasingly they are being outfitted with the same "smart" technologies that track our daily habits, collecting data for algorithms that seek to automate design. If design is to adapt to this increasingly wired world, it must confront automation. Becoming Digital serves as an introduction to the pressing concerns sparked by the embeddedness of architecture and design in ubiquitous networks of digital technology. 

This course will include lectures, readings, discussions, field trips, and guest presentations, each probing broad and fundamental questions about design in the digital age. Together we will listen, discuss, investigate, and experience. Our goal will be digital literacy - a broad understanding of how technology works, its inherent biases, and its effect on people. We will consider digital ethics and challenge ourselves to ensure that design contributes to a more healthful, equitable, and just world. 


Tue 9:00am-12:00pm 1360 A&AB


Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure


Course Brief