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dates : 08.09.09 - 02.10.09

opening times: 9 am - 6 pm

price: free


Phase 2 Gallery, ARUPS’s offices

8 Fitzroy Street

London W1T 4BJ





map: http://www.multimap.com


Last week, on 21st Sept 2009 took place the “Digital Architecture” Symposium,  a one-day conference with an impressive line-up of prominent thinkers, designers, architects and scientists. Ruairi Glynn who organised this day, also curated the accompanying exhibition “Digital Hinterlands” at the Phase 2 Gallery (until the 2nd of October), with the support of Arup, London Digital Week, The Building Centre, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University of Westminster, AA, and the RCA.

I was able to attend the morning sessions of the Symposium in the tiny basement room of the Building centre, but unfortunately missed the much needed introduction to this day. From the outset, Digital can appear like a specialised subject, but it influences Architecture in many different ways : representation, visualisation, engineering, projection, fabrication, and the list is far from exhaustive. So what is Digital Architecture ? Does such a thing even exist?

With the many interventions of the day, including Geoff Manaugh of BLDBLOG, scientist Rachel Armstrong, Tonny Dunne of Dunne & Raby amongst the many, one could not deny the existence or indeed importance of the Digital in Architecture.

Ruairi methodically organised the panels around the following themes : Digital Architecture and Space, Bio-Technology, Form, Interaction, Fabrication. But by lunch time, I felt happy to be there, and having heard about interesting projects and speculations but was still unsure as to what Digital Architecture was.

It felt more like being in the middle of a movement one is trying to define . It felt like a question that remained unanswered. And perhaps that is precisely what it was.

With the new technologies multiplying the possibilities in Architecture exponentially, with for example the so-called parametric designs or other technology infused designs, it probably is about time to try and see the wider picture of it all. Why is Architecture using technology ? As mentioned during the discussions, Architects have been rather like children trying new toys, fascinated by these exciting tools and the new worlds they generate.  They have been pushing and testing these tools, resulting in new digital spaces. And these digital spaces have indeed veered from the virtual to the real environment.

But does it mean that Architecture has become Digital ? Have we entered the age of Digital Architecture ? I can’t help but think that the word is not suited. I can’t equate Architecture to the computer language, even if the computer language has long been using the word architecture for its own purposes...

A last check on the French dictionary reasserts that the word comes from ‘digit’, meaning ‘finger’. Leaving me even more confused...