Shared mediated spaces

What is new, today, is that it has become possible to populate these architectural extensions; to inhabit them in ways that allow people to interact and collaborate closely; to see and hear each other; in other words, to be present before one another while remaining in different locations. Designing for presence therefore implies the design of shared mediated spaces that enable people to collaborate as well as they might, for example, in their conventional workplace, possibly designed by architects.

In enabling audiovisual extensions in real time, presence design emerges as a new field, exposing architectural discourse and practice to radical new concerns.
Architectural design is conventionally executed by ‘brick and mortar’, but new building materials are developing everyday, some adapted from the field of media and communications. Delimiting the discussion to my own design practice, which has explored video as a ‘building material’ and design component over 10 years, this paper focuses the design issues that enable people to meet, collaborate and interact in shared mediated spaces in real time: presence design as architectural design.
In relating the needs for presence to spatial and temporal design, it is necessary to discern between different functionalities and expectations of meetings and interactions. We may ask whether it is primarily by convention that we commute to work, or whether human co-presence is an actual prerequisite for the professional work performed? While it can be argued that relationships may benefit from physical contact between humans (e.g. the need to momentarily touch someone’s arm or to shake hands), most work-related collaborations do not rely on physical contact as much as they rely on the potential exchange of knowledge, information transfer, direct access to expertise and flow of ideas between individuals. These are knowledge management processes in which the concept of trust is a qualifying factor. In effect, trust and presence are closely linked (Nevejan 2007, 2009).
The technological development that I refer to has a fundamental impact on the nature of human communication and interaction, across all practices. Thus, it necessarily affects architectural design, its practitioners, and its academics. A proposed synthesis of architectural and technical design creates a significantly expanded potential for knowledge sharing, with potential to reformulate the practice and theory of architecture itself.

Charlie Gullström