Sensory Overload: Effects on the Built Environment

by: Constantine Ronquillo, uap, Assoc. AIA

The era of digital lifestyle has escalated exponentially. This is the era of catchphrase, elevator-pitch and low attention span. Attention indeed, has become the most expensive commodity. As I'm typing at this point, I'd say 75% of the readers will veer away and move on to do other things. It is the age of the spin (quoting Dave Chapelle)- people can't afford to stop and think, we can't think anymore because we know a lot and we expect information to be readily available to be consumed. Kids don't read anymore; they google, youtube. We grew numb and emotionless. We move on faster than ever. Being idle has become a luxury. 

Architecture in this era, as a profession, as an approach has not given an answer, yet. Everything evolves quickly. While the fashion industry had made good strides in keeping up, architects are left to rot. Is the once celebrated profession bound to die at the mercy of the fast-paced era set by technology and capitalist greed? Is this the end? 

To stay relevant, we have to stay current. An evolution of the mind and mindset has to happen... now. Rem Koolhaas, one of the living (and might be the only) legend of this time, has made a bold statement about the failures of the profession- we are just too damn slow and self-centered. 

An overhaul of greater proportion, a redesign of our regulation and policies will allow us to be relevant again. How? My solution is to embrace those that we are afraid of:

a. Technology- Software, 3d printers, 3d builders. Allow them to evolve. learn to code. We will all be coders in the near future anyways. Our authoring of design will drastically change- There will be a paradigm shift on workflow, office setting and running its business. because if we snooze we lose. 

b. The public- we need to be socially driven and have the occupants design the building, we guide and control. My recent experience conducting social experiments and workshops to clients have shown how crowdsourcing make a long-lasting impact on projects. 

c. Design- design responds to innovation, innovation is the mother of necessity. We have to design based on what is available, not what we think should be there for us. And we have to do it quick. The garment industry has been setting trends faster than ever before. So should Architecture.

Last, and I have been vocal of this eversince, we will evolve on becoming social scientists.This will expand our relevance as technology will start taking over our day to day chores. I see that 'architect' will once again turn into something more appropriate to the period, as how it did  during the time when it was synonymous to 'master carpenter' during the 1800's.