Spatial Design is a fundamental practice in humans shaping of the material world. As a cultural technique, it is a key activity in the design-based disciplines, in the arts, and in engineering. The digital revolution has enabled not only new representations of spatial design (of products, installations, buildings, cities, landscapes), but also new strategies that employ computational support throughout the design process and introduce radically different modalities of interaction.
A central objective of the research consortium SHAPING SPACE is to promote a generative turn in spatial design. The development of tools for the creation of space will lead to an integration of computational simulations for light, sound, structure and energy, as well as displays enabling an immediate and comprehensive experience of the ‘performance’ of space for the first time. This generative approach allows for a fast development of spatial design and facilitates collaboration between artists, designers, engineers, scientists and users throughout the design process. To that end, we will develop novel interfaces that enable a smooth translation of mental images of space into virtual and augmented representations. They will inspire a new generation of designers, and at the same time support collective refinement and the direct materialization of concepts.
Theory formation in the consortium will transcend the binary idea of creative vs. technical approaches, and depart from the paradigm of authorship as a central reference of design. We anticipate that intuition and immediacy, facilitated by new tools for creation and interaction, will lead to a convergence of design knowing and engineering skills. With the process of design being opened up to forms of co-production, intervention and participation, we expect changes in the social and aesthetic landscape of spatial design and spatial experience. As not only the built environment but also digital infrastructures become increasingly part of our daily life and our ‘reality,’ we see the need to re-investigate the relation between the maker, the tool and the user.
SHAPING SPACE builds upon the unique alliance between The University of the Arts Berlin (UdK) and Technical University Berlin (TU) on the Campus Charlottenburg, and the establishment of combined design laboratories. The collaboration of art, science and technology will not only enable a comprehensive approach to design in the digital age, but an advanced form of academic practice, which could be become a future model for the German academy. We believe that the synthesis of a critical, reflective artistic practice and a scientific approach embracing artistic forms of discourse will offer avenues for addressing some of the most urgent problems of contemporary design as well as new methods for shaping space in the future.