A Step Towards a Topology of Responsive Architecture:Actors,Interactions,Transformations

Open Access
Oh, Seoug
Graduate Program:
Master of Architecture
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 19, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Daniel Cardoso Llach, Thesis Advisor
  • Human-environment relationships
  • Interactions
  • Responsive Architecture
This thesis investigates different views in human-environment relationships reflected in responsive architecture. On the one hand, responsive architecture is often regarded as an area of research and practice that incorporates computational power into buildings in order to modify environments to obtain better conditions for a particular human purpose. On the other hand, it is often deemed a performative art that evaporates the distinction between human and environment. The study uses a cybernetic frame to emphasize the evolutional relation between subject and object in a system. If an action is generated by an actor, it triggers change in its environment. This change is then reflected to the original actor, which generates change in the internal logic of the original actor. Within a cybernetic frame, current typologies of responsive architecture are analyzed into three categories: reactive, social, and conversational. Reactive refers to projects that aim to manipulate the environment for humans through an input and output mechanism. Conversational refers to projects that attempt to construct a “shared environment” between the human and environment through feedback. Social denotes projects that encourage participants’ active interpretation, which occurs through the effect of designed responsiveness. Afterwards, three fieldworks were designed to explore responsive architecture. Each exploration has accordingly designed a responsive artifact placed within a specific site. Ethnographic analysis through video recording is conducted to review interactions in a particular moment-time. By analyzing the interaction of humans and the artifacts, the research argues that, regardless its typologies, responsive architectures construct their own worlds and are valid only in the range of these constructed worlds. With the argument, this thesis opens up questions about design.