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The Living, New York, United States

Monday 12 Mar 2012

Prototyping the future

David Benjamin 
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The Living builds with new architecture technologies and investigates public space, social relationships, the natural environment, and the future of cities 

The Living is a new architecture practice based on open source research and development. Recent constructions explore architecture in the context of public space, the natural environment, and the Internet of Things. They involve dynamic building envelopes, interfaces to environmental quality, and platforms for collective discussion and action.

Rapidly changing conditions in the world call for entirely new architectural propositions. New propositions call for testing. Testing calls for iterative prototyping. Over the past several years,The Living have developed an approach to architecture based on testing and prototyping. They aim to think big and imagine radical futures. But at the same time, they aim to design with actual materials on the lab bench. The practice aim to confront today's urgent problems with today's available technologies and social practices. In this process, design = research = prototyping.

The goal of The Living's work is not to produce a single refined design but instead to record experiments and identify new promising directions. Each project is a beginning rather than an end. Each open source prototype is both a small loop of immediate research and a large challenge to the future.

In order to work with speed and agility, the practice has invented a design method called Flash Research. The method involves quick, intense, targeted explorations of architectural ideas. Each project involves self-imposed limits of time (three months) and budget ($1,000). Each one tests design possibilities through full-scale, functioning prototypes.

The Living apply their Flash Research to constructions in public space and to the public exchange of information about ideas, environment, and culture. Their building prototypes involve real-time interfaces to sensor data, new forms of SMS communication with architecture (texting buildings and texting rivers), and new definitions of sustainable architecture.

For them, each project creates a very specific loop connecting past to present to future, and connecting their work to the work of others.

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