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V. Hui, M. Suriano, K. Pu

Ryerson University (CANADA)
As a palimpsest of civilization, architecture is conceptually one of the most dynamic media reflecting the temporal and cultural shifts in human development. Despite this plasticity, the physical dimensions of architecture have traditionally remained relatively static whether on account of material or technological limitations. For millennia wood and stone served as the basis for an architectural palette while construction was limited to the quality of labor available. Since the turn of the 19th century architecture has undergone a direct and dramatic evolution reflecting material and technological advances on a networked global scale. The result has been a growing ubiquity of fantastic architecture that continuously pushes the conventional boundaries of architecture. Unfortunately the majority of these works remain physically static as both a larger component to the urban fabric as well as a modulator of human activity. It is with the latter that the architectural community, specifically its educators, has become engaged with integrating physical computing technologies into the built environment.

As current pedagogical trends encourage interconnectivity and cross-disciplinary collaborations, architectural interventions are increasingly adopting new technologies to foster greater interaction between the built world and its users. Microprocessors and embedded technologies are quickly adopted in architectural pedagogy. Though nascent, this integration is not only an innovation in the education of an architect, but instrumental in determining the future trajectory of architecture as a discipline. This presentation demonstrates the success of integrating physical computing into architectural pedagogy over several years within an upper year digital tools course in an architectural science program. Through an evolving balance of conventional, blended, and experiential learning opportunities, students, this curriculum inculcated a strong spirit of innovation in interactive architecture. Documentation of the pedagogy, process, and final prototypes generated by the students will serve to emphasize the impact of these innovative practices. The paper concludes with key findings that educators and researchers may leverage in the development of processes that mandate technological innovation in design industries and institutions.