This page presents ideas selected from my publications that drive my research and scholarly work.

On Embedded and Smart Systems/Environments

A critical aspect of future embedded assemblies is a plug-and-play (PnP) architecture of building components. What we have come to expect from computers and electronic devices is their ability to interface with other objects without a need for significant user involvement or understanding of technology. The same should apply to building components, their ability to get connected and integrated into an overall framework of a smart building. A window, or any other building component, should be able to recognize its place (localize itself) and role within the overall building as well as its performance and users’ expectations toward it. The history and building knowledge should be passed to, or at least accessible to, newly installed components for self-configuration and performance optimization. In this instance, mass-produced building components would need to be localized and reconciled within their assembly, respond to their physical and spatial configurations—windows facing south may need to perform differently than those facing north—and understand regional and microclimatic conditions.
Adaptive Designs with Distributed Intelligent Systems | eCAADe 2016 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

On Design & Research

The emerging prototyping technologies, coupled with crowdsourced and open-source electronic culture, provide a new take on the architectural design process. This process brings architecture closer to product design by focusing on the development of end-to-end solutions and recognizing the front-end (human interface) design aspects as well as the back-end technological framework as necessary forming components. The standard architectural design model, an architect defines design intent (the “what”) and a contractor provides the implementation (the “how”), no longer supports the innovative needs of profession and society.
As is evident with the approach to the Algae Façade project—using a precedent as a starting point for design—maker and hacker culture ultimately will penetrate the traditional inert notion of architecture. The environment will not be built from scratch, but rather will be tweaked and reappropriated from existing or mass-produced elements with strong adaptive features. This notion will become even more pronounced at the point when the built environment is defined not only by its built form—hardware—but also its software: embedded electronic and media functionalities.
Prototyping Construction Assemblies with Emerging Technologies: An Educational Perspective | BTES 2017 | BibTeX 

On Creating-Making

Apparently unrelated cultural phenomena, such as video game mods, public realm hacking (both virtually and physically), and makers tinkering with every-day products, point to a new collective agreement that significantly informs the current social fabric, culture, and environment. This new attitude toward the ownership of the public realm and of collectively shared cultural production is directly related to and driven by technological developments that are democratizing means of production, forms of communication, and ultimately knowledge sharing and development. This democratization occurs on multiple levels with diverse types of audiences. While it is open and accessible to all, it does privilege some with particular capabilities and technological mindsets. It is not always equitable or impartial, but it does broaden an innovative base and provide new opportunities for previously untapped talents. It helps to rejuvenate culture with fresh energy and creativity. In most cases, this process takes place with full or at least partial social consensus, but there are also moments when the change is accomplished through means that break laws and established customs.

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Hacking signals reappropriation of an established framework. It is an intentional and decisive creative political act that provides alternative outcomes or scenarios. It is different from creating something anew. Hacking economizes on the existing resources, often subverting them. It provides a plurality of solutions through idea forking that ultimately enriches user choices. While it is usually associated with reverse engineering of software or physical products, it can also be understood as form of redirecting resources and redefining relationships.

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While the Maker Movement empowers designers and architects by putting them in a direct contact with the production of the built environment, more importantly it transforms the relationship between creators and users. The participants in the built environment expect a similar level of involvement in and authorship of the public domain as architects have. Being a silent and passive consumer of design and culture no longer is glorified or aspired to. Democratized environments allow users to customize and make them adaptive to their personal and often esoteric needs. This significantly shifts the role of designers and the types of designs they produce. Open-source, open-ended, crowdsourcing are just some of the modifiers of cultural modes of production that define new relationship between the creativity, intellectual property ownership and authorship.
Mods, Hacks, Makers: Crowdsourced Culture and Environment; Upcoming Cultural DNA / Springer book chapter: Spring 2018

On Digital Media and Culture

While architecture no longer serves as, or aspires to be, a unified social and cultural medium, the accumulated space-making knowledge does trans-late into other forms of immersive experience, specifically video games. The cinematic and narrative space created in the past by architects, and later adapted to performative arts and cinema, is now being rediscovered through immersive and interactive video games.
Epic video games: Narrative spaces and engaged lives | IJAC 2016 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

The relatively established mindset that video games are based not on content, but on problems to solve, sees gaming in its traditional sense without the modulation resulting from the introduction of the video qualifier. This mindset fails to see three-dimensional immersive video games as environments that people inhabit spatially and emotionally, and which they consider as direct and continuous extensions of their offline lives: a virtual space that integrates well with human dreams, drives, and desires. Three-dimensional immersive video games are no longer games in the same category as chess, board games, or even early video games like Pong. (…) There is a different sensory engagement in playing a chess or Pong game than in more contemporary games like Myst or Mass Effect. The sense of inhabiting the virtual world is much closer to Martin Heidegger’s concepts expressed in the book Being and Time (“Being in the World” essay) than a problem-solving exercise. Video gaming helps in forming a strong bond to the virtual environments, virtual lives, and virtual cohabitants. While it builds an evocative dimension on cinematography, it establishes itself as a separate and dominant space through its interactive and direct engagement.
Epic video games: Narrative spaces and engaged lives | IJAC 2016 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

Cities are no longer purely physical artefacts—they are media, rooted in a graphical user interface (GUI), fine-tuned for the optimal UX, and accessed through ubiquitous networks and mobile apps. From cinematography designers have adopted discontinuity of time and space, with its asynchronicity of interactions and unexpected causality. At the same time, people expect to be constantly plugged into a larger, ubiquitous technological continuum of social networks and data flows. Co-location and direct interactions register differently today in the context of electronic networks. Urban environments become prime testing grounds for the physical-to-digital-and-back-to-physical metamorphosis cycle with an idea of digital physicality and physical digitality that forms a core theme of augmented urban lives today.
Towards new Mediapolis: networks, identities, and agents | Architectural Science Review 2015 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

Johan Huizinga’s idea of the magic circle as discussed in Homo Ludens expresses the transformative role games play in everyday lives. They allow for the suspension of rules and norms of the outside world to pursue, even if momentarily, alternative realities. The magic circle is both reflective and projective, allowing for processing of offline lives and speculating about the future.
This concept should be, and effectively has been, applied to architecture and other media arts. Architecture was a magic circle laid at the foundations of the past public realm, reinforcing rituals and social structures, and on occasion providing an emotional shelter or an aspirational mental space. This covenant between built physical space and the magic circle is no longer part of architecture. This is probably why society does not engage architecture, while it can be obsessed with a popular TV show. Architecture no longer plays a central role in social and cultural life. The question of whether virtual and media components could potentially re-balance this perception and reception of architecture remains open and warrants serious consideration.
Epic video games: Narrative spaces and engaged lives | IJAC 2016 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

Unlike the physical city, which by its shared nature is always “on” and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), the AR world can be turned off and can be either WYSIWYG or non-WYSIWYG, allowing for privacy within the public realm. This on-and-off transparency associated with WYSIWIG and non-WYSIWIG worlds is characteristic of electronic networks and online culture. It also puts in question a number of architectural and urban form constants, such as Rossi’s collective memory concept, or even Kevin Lynch’s five elements that form mental maps. Terms such as “district” and “edge,” or elements such as landmarks, become expressions created and shared by individuals operating in smaller groups without the need for broader compatibility or relevance. These mental maps become highly individualized, with strong references to non-physical objects that go beyond Lynch’s five elements.
Towards new Mediapolis: networks, identities, and agents | Architectural Science Review 2015 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

Interactivity in games breaks the monodirectional mode of traditional media—including architecture—where a creative center and the audience have strictly defined roles with no ability for information exchange, narrative feedback loops, or crowdsourcing. The limitation of traditional mass media such as radio and television was recognized early by Bertolt Brecht, who pointed out that “radio is one-sided when it should be two-. It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out. So here is a positive suggestion: change this apparatus over from distribution to communication.” While radio and television have evolved little to satisfy Brecht’s aspirations, video games and electronic technology in general provide an effective apparatus to move media from distribution and sharing out to communication, collaboration, and collective authorship.
Epic video games: Narrative spaces and engaged lives | IJAC 2016 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

On Augmented Reality

The shifting focus from virtual-reality (VR) environments toward mixed-reality and AR frameworks indicates the reexamination of earlier visions of separated physical and digital worlds. The emerging picture fuses both dimensions into a single continuum. The newfound physical context adopted by AR games encourages players to push the boundaries of social conventions and accepted public behavior. Unlike more passive forms of entertainment such as reality TV or even active-yet-confined console-based games, the AR framework incorporates physical activities and social interaction as well as encouraging exploration, learning, and discovery. Furthermore, as activities integrate digital media culture within the built environment—cities—these games provide an insight into our physical-digital selves and better understanding of ourselves and our communities.
Teaching and Designing for Augmented Reality | eCAADe 2014 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

AR-based applications provide an opportunity to reconnect and better realign virtual and physical worlds through location awareness, enhanced data overlays, and user-focused content. Unlike more static forms of digital media, augmented reality, with its interactive and context-aware functionalities, engages users in more direct and meaningful ways.
Teaching and Designing for Augmented Reality | eCAADe 2014 | BibTeX | ResearchGate

AR technology is entering a new stage where it is no longer the domain of technology-oriented individuals with heavy involvement of computer programming and other software tools. Products such as Vuforia, Qualcomm’s plugin for the Unity3D Game Engine, delivers a highly functional tool that can be easily integrated into academic teaching and professional practice.
Teaching and Designing for Augmented Reality | eCAADe 2014 | BibTeX | ResearchGate