After Machine-à-Habiter

Douglas Voigt
Partner
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago

The technological component in architecture has dramatically increased during the last 50 years. Buildings react automatically to the environment, to the presence of occupants and events, even to vocal commands. The machine-à-habiter—one of the main concepts of the Le Corbusier thinking —is becoming more actual, imbued with new deeper meanings almost one century after the publishing of his Vers une Architecture.

In 50 years, buildings (mostly tall buildings) will provide the environment in which we will prosper. It will be completely artificial and fully digital, completely dependent on a constant flow of electricity. Technology will become more important than design. Buildings will become energy voracious, networks will be overwhelmed by the demand and it will become essential for skyscrapers to produce the electricity they need to survive. The Habitable Machines of tomorrow will need to be tailored to the specific needs and locations, the design will parametrically drive to accommodate market needs and the production will be more similar to the car production we have today than the construction industry we all know.

The future cities described above will be populated by clusters of buildings different but with a common DNA. In the digital era of tomorrow, the uniqueness it’s not a value per se and the variation within a set of common rules will allow the specificity within the repetition. This presentation explores which will be the technologies and demonstrates how parametric architecture is becoming the incarnation of this new trend.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation