The City as Interactive Datascape

The cover of the final volume in the Situated Technologies series, Modulated Cities: Networked Spaces, Reconstituted Subjects, by Helen Nissenbaum and Kazys Varnelis. Image by Jena Sher, cc: The Architectural League of New York.

Since its founding in 1881, The Architecture League of New York has hosted countless lectures, salons, exhibitions, and publication series. But, when it came time to think what the most important project was in their history, they chose something much more recent: the Situated Technologies series from Trebor Scholz.

Scholz, who teaches in the Culture and Media division of Eugene Lang College, has spent the past three years publishing a series of pamphlets on the relationship between architecture and the increasing ubiquity of computing in daily life (mobile and otherwise). Its nine booklets were structured as a succession of nine conversations between researchers, writers and other practitioners of architecture, art, philosophy of technology, comparative media study, performance studies, and engineering. It asked questions like: How is our experience of the city and the choices we make in it affected by mobile communications, pervasive media, ambient informatics, and other “situated” technologies? How will the ability to design increasingly responsive environments alter the way architects conceive of space? What do architects need to know about urban computing and what do technologists need to know about cities?

The final volume in the series, “Modulated Cities: Networked Spaces, Reconstituted Subjects,” by Helen Nissenbaum and Kazys Varnelis, was released in April of this year. To celebrate, and to address the issues raised by the series, the Architecture League hosted a day-long series of lectures and discussions at Cooper Union’s new flagship space, designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis. The event featured Usman Haque, Natalie Jeremijenko, Laura Kurgan, and Mark Shepard (presenting a series of case studies on open data and the process of making data public), Philip Beesley, David Benjamin, Laura Forlano, and Omar Khan (identifying the challenges of developing data literacy among the next generation of architects).

The work between The New School and The Architecture League doesn’t end there. Starting on June 21, The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design will be presenting the League’s Young Architects awards. More details are available here.

All volumes in the Situated Technologies series are available to download for free at the Situated Technologies website