As self-driven cars are being introduced to our city streets and tech companies have expanded their influence far beyond the boundaries of our computer and smartphone displays, a new generation of architects are charged with imagining how to employ the technology of tomorrow in ways that will advance and improve the world’s built environments. With
Taking full advantage of modern data science capabilities and semi-automated robotic technology currently deployed in factory settings around the world, Masters candidate
Inspired by the
In his exploration of architectural
Based on developments in data science, resources like New York City’s open data platform and Google’s Popular Times feature show how traffic and occupancy trends can be accurately monitored, and this information can be used to predict how demand for different types of space changes on an hour-by-hour basis. In The Synaptic Building, machine learning algorithms use this occupancy data to create a schedule for how the building arranges its spaces: on the ground floor, motorized retail units organize themselves to a grid in time for business hours to begin, spread themselves out to make room for restaurant seating during mealtimes, and then retract to a compact arrangement for overnight storage after the building closes. With online commerce solutions relieving the need to carry extensive inventory, these retail units are each small enough to be powered by robotic electric motors programmed to follow a specific movement pattern. This capability is currently used by Amazon to maximize efficiency by moving shelving units autonomously around their warehouses.
In this scheme, retail stores, conference rooms, and other contained spatial units are free to scurry into new positions throughout the day thanks to the open, column-free floor plans created by The Synaptic Building’s unique structure. Designed to have a minimal footprint while containing vertical circulation areas and all fixed services (like plumbing, wiring, HVAC, and LED lighting), the structure relies on steel vaults that rise and expand like branches of a tree to support each subsequent stacked floor plate. Chaillou explains that this design allows new floors to be added to the top of the building over time as demand requires.
This idea of the building growing in height connects Chaillou’s ideas directly to the ideas of
While Chaillou characterizes The Synaptic Building as a modern example of
But as progressive as The Synaptic Building may be, Chaillou’s greater ambitions in proposing a technology-based approach to unprecedented architectural flexibility focus on the role that architects must play in the design and realization of such an active program. “Architects will soon have to surpass their current set of skills,” he says, “to understand the future users’ behavioral patterns and cycles and adapt their building conception accordingly.” By taking responsibility for more than just the structure, aesthetics and built properties of a project and considering the details of how a building functions day-to-day throughout its life cycle, he envisions a future in which architecture would be responsible for assessing, responding to and ultimately determining the functional relationship between humanity and the institutions we interact with in every facet of our daily lives.