Architecture of Cultural Prosthetics: Tools for Communication and Expression in the Public Space

Cultural:[1] Of or relating to the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a society. [2] Of or relating to the arts and to intellectual achievements.

Prosthetics:[1] Specialty concerned with the design, construction, and fitting of artificial devices – prostheses – to replace or augment missing or impaired parts of the body. [2] Pieces of flexible material applied to actors\’ faces to transform their appearance.

An important function of public space and architecture is to operate as an inclusive, discursive and communicative environment.

To fulfill such a task, the socially committed architecture must not only focus on creating permanent city structures but also engage in the design of tools, equipment, instruments, and other communicative interfaces, and media-enhanced architectural supplements for cross-cultural communication, public dialogue, individual and collective expression, and civic engagement: the architecture of cultural prosthetics.

This Option Studio will provide a chance for architecture students to design, build and test experimental communicative tools: portable mobile, wearable or parasitically appropriating architectural sites.

In their projects students will develop skills in human scale design and fabrication, innovative use of technology as well as social and critical knowledge: valuable cross-disciplinary experience.

Practical work will be combined with readings, presentation, and discussions involving examples of relevant art and design.

Guests from social organizations as well as artists and technologists will be invited for project reviews and to share their own work.

Students\’ ergonomic, psychological, and social research will be consulted with potential users and fabricators. We will use creative software, 3D printing, physical modeling, and hardware design / integration (sensors, micro-projectors, speakers, display screens and other input and output devices).

The studio will include visits to groups who are working on prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and robotics at Harvard, MIT’s Media Lab, and within the Boston area.

Projects will be documented and disseminated through social media, a special website, and a comprehensive publication.

The studio will present its final projects in the form of a public performance combined with an exhibition displaying video-documents of students\’ designs and related experiments.