Should a home be smart?

Should a home be smart?

An issue that keeps coming back when the development and implementation of IoT is discussed is that of the ‘Smart Home’; recently accompanied by a – sometimes semantic – discussion about the difference between a smart home and an intelligent home. Since this is, next to food for thought, also something of a contradiction I will contemplate on this a little further. One of my favourite poetic lines is one written in 1944 by the French surrealistic poet Paul Eluard: “When the peaks of our sky come together, my house will have a roof”. This, to me, reflects the ontology of our home: our current house has an address, our home can be abstract, maybe even somewhere else. It is our way of building houses that creates the dichotomy of public and private space: we build a house and – intend to – create a home there, without realising ourselves why and how we ‘dwell’ where we do. Lees verder

IoT, all the rage?

IOT, all the rage?

“We should seek a future where more people will do well, without losing liberty,even as technology gets better, much better.”

Jaron Lanier, Who owns the Future? 2013:4

At the recent CES-2013 in Las Vegas the Internet of Things was declared ‘all the rage’; Gartner’s Hype-Cycle 2013 report stated that IoT is some ten years from ‘the plateau of productivity’.[1] Should we look for a single connotation on the term ‘architecture’ we end up with references to digital infrastructure instead of one on the build environment. Since this is a new platform dedicated to the IoT – and this blog is about architecture – it might be wise to get the semantics straight before continuing with any further discussion on IoT’s framework and applications concerning our build environment, i.e. architecture.

In 1996 Mark Weiser and John Seeley Brown paved the way in their ‘Coming Age of Calm Technology’, in 1999 it was Kevin Ashton who coined the term ‘internet of things’ : the connection between objects (things) and subjects ( people) to the internet. The years after a wide variety of definitions[2] appeared which may vary in articulation according to approach and/or stakeholder.

This ontological discussion gets interesting when, due to a more thorough rethinking of its origins, the term itself becomes subject of doubt and/or rejection. In 2011 it was K. Swaminathan[3] who declared the IoT a concept instead of a technology, in which “the IoT has materially nothing to do with the internet.” This move, away from pragmatics to theory gets interesting when we contemplate the additional abstract values of linking objects and subjects to the internet. After all, without going into semantics as well: adding a technology is not similar to adding a concept. Being interior-architect I intend to focus on these issues concerning the internet of things and our (build) environment since I consider the latter of utmost importance to man’s life.

In 2015 the number of connected devices worldwide will be three times the amount of people and by 2020 this will have increased to seven times. (see e.g. Santucci, IoT-book 2012[4]) This makes our world a complex, more hybrid world; a mix of real and virtual, of analogue and digital in which human values need attention. It was reason enough in 2011 for the European Commission to launch the rethinking of ‘what it means to be human in hyperconnected world’ , which resulted in a presentation in Brussels last February of a 255 page extensive background document and a concise ‘Manifesto’[5]. Both were more in-depth discussed last July since its content serves as guideline for the new European Parliament to be elected in 2014. Based largely on the work of Hannah Arendt the emphasis is on contemporary human values; one of which is the distinction between public and private space which tends to be understood in spatial terms. Since our way of determining a spatial distinction is to a large extend a way of creating architecture it is obvious that ‘building’ becomes an essential issue in this discussion. After all; we create architecture from a mental image, out of nothing, “we extract architectonical space as an emptiness out of natural space[6]”. (van der Laan, 1992) From there we determine the still current dichotomy of public and private space which both have become part of the same complex, hybrid environment which is increasingly designed, built and maintained by means of various digital processes. However; should we define architecture “as adaptation of space to human needs[7]” (Jaskiewicz, 2013:13) we cannot escape the consequence that we, as users/inhabitants with ever-changing needs and behaviour, must achieve a fundamental and continuing influence on its design and use.

Over the last 50 years a wide variety of architects/artists have created sometimes utopian projects on our build environment; since however most of these projects were thinking projects in the first place most of them were also never realised. (see e.g. Price’s Fun Palace 1964, Constant’s New Babylon, approx. 1950-1960). The question today is whether the preconditions and – social – circumstances have changed significantly; i.e., can we, through the concept of an IoT realise a paradigm-shift by focusing on – sometimes neglected – human values instead of technological achievements only? Can we build the environment while living?


[2] See e.g. Council, EPOSS, IERC, Casagras.

[3] Swaminathan, B. K. S. (2012). Toasters , refrigerators and Internet of Things, (1).



[6] Laan, D. H. van der. (1983). Architectonic Space (p. 204). Brill Leiden.

[7]Jaskiewicz, T. (2013). Towards a methodology for complex adaptive interactive architecture. Technical University Delft.

this article was published on Sept.1st.2013 on the website of IoT-World.

house or home

For: the Creativist Society, March 2011

House and/or home.

If there is one issue that keeps coming back in discussions among (interior)architects it is that on housing, home, privacy, etc.
If there is one choice in which this is relevant it is the one on the Creativist website: ‘we can be a creativist or we can be a consumer.’
Since this is a choice not completely free of understandable simplification; let me add some ever current complexity but also try to shed some light in this; especially because this discussion will become more important in the rest of his decade, due to some developments. Lees verder

building & iot

What does living together mean;
part 2, Empty Spaces?

In desperate search for some data yesterday I stumbled upon a working document by Council’s Rob v.Kranenburg dated April 2009 for a proposed conference on Hybrid Living. That same morning a Dutch real-estate company announced that in the Netherlands 6,5 million m2. office-space is empty; which is 14% of the total amount. Lees verder

renovatie Rotterdamse Schouwburg

De beklede kist

Op zaterdag 2 oktober j.l. vond de officiele opening plaats van de vernieuwde Rotterdamse Schouwburg; een opening waar door velen, m.n. in ons vakgebied, met de nodige spanning naar werd uitgekeken.
In de volksmond werd de schouwburg de ‘kist van Quist’ genoemd; in een recent artikel in de Volkskrant (30-9-2010, pag 55) werd zelfs de benaming ‘ vrieskist’ gebruikt.
Voor de verbouwing werd een vooraanstaand scenograaf – Jan Versweyveld – verkozen boven een interieurarchitect: zou een ‘decorontwerper’ in staat zijn de Rotterdamse Schouwburg een nieuw gezicht te geven; heeft een ontwerper uit een dergelijke andere discipline niet een ander beeld van wat een interieur is; hoe verhoudt dit zich tot de karakteristieke, functionele architectuur die de gebouwen van Wim Quist zo kenmerkt.
Kortom; vele vragen die een interview met directeur Jan Zoet waard zijn. Maar eerst enige historie en achtergrond: Lees verder

internet of things

It was, I believe, the French psycho-analyst Jacques Lacan who stated that the reality in which man lives mainly consist of images, desires, etc. , not the average social daily life. Our build environment is only for a small – but important – part a precondition for this; where it concerns our experiences we have an increasing amount of possibilities available to determine, realise and influence our environment, be it build or virtual. Lees verder

Woontechnologie, een verdeling in drieen (voor DomoZine 2010/35)

Het was medio 2008; het begrip ‘ woontechnologie’ – en de daarmee bij vlagen samenhangende problemen – werd weer eens actueel en pijnlijk duidelijk:
Elektriciteitsbedrijf NUON stelde voor iedere woning te voorzien van een z.g. slimme meter; kortom: een meter die het verbruik automatisch registreert en de standen gedetailleerd via internet doorgeeft.
Domozine artikel, Jan 2010,

Woontechnologie, een verdeling in drieen. Lees verder

Installaties (voor BNI-INTERN 5-2009)

Toen op 31 januari 1977 in Parijs het Centre Georges Pompidou – ontworpen door Renzo Piano en Richard Rogers – werd geopend stelde de New York Times:

it turned the architectural world upside down.

Alle installaties werden aan de buitenzijde geplaatst; elk in een aparte kleur, vastgesteld per functie.
Zodoende bleven tentoonstellingsruimtes vrij beschikbaar en indeelbaar, zonder de belemmeringen van aan- en afvoeren, leidingen en overige installaties. Lees verder

Shelter (voor SYNC.NL, 2009)

Sedert decennia staat in mijn boekenkast het grootformaat ‘ Shelter’ , een Amerikaanse uitgave van Shelter Publications uit 1973.1
Het boek bevat een schat aan, grotendeels zwartwit foto’ s, tekeningen, schetsen etc. vanuit de gehele wereld die allen een ding gemeen hebben: hoe leeft de mens, hoe bouwt de mens, zichzelf een onderkomen, een ´shelter´ . Lees verder