Corbusier, Computers, and Consciousness, 29.4.21
What does it mean for humans to live in spaces that were initially programmed, but that are not completely controllable? What are the potentially protective/risky tasks we could confer to a space able to autonomously detect our needs, and respond to them – or over-ride them –accordingly? Or should we stick to the idea of architecture as an element that is sophisticated yet completely under our control, in order to preserve our sense of ownership of the space? Event Website.
I was invited to give a short talk as part of a virtual panel and roundtable called ‘The City We Have in Mind’ from Tuned, the research branch of Lombardini22, an architectural firm in Italy.
Corbusier, Computers, and Consciousness looked at two timelines: one of architectural history and one of the development of computation, proposing their intersection to exist within Von Neumann’s idea of the Universal Constructor (a self-replicating machine).
If we imagine the house as a machine to live in, (as Corbusier did) — the spaces are rendered emotionless and flat. But, if we grant a space the ability to reproduce, we can move closer towards conceptualizing the existence of spaces that are truly ‘living’ or onto which we can project a pseudo-consciousness. Further, the conceptual work of Mies, the 1960 Metabolist Manifesto, and the Schroeder house also bear explicit reference to the idea that architecture ‘is a body’. The combination of historical reference to architecture having a body and imbuing it with the ability to ‘reproduce’ grants it a consciousness that our current spaces do not have.