M. ARCH I
urbanism, digital devices, Sidewalk Labs, architecture, data surveillance, physical digital community
Google's Sidewalk Labs claims that its plans for Quayside in Toronto will result in the "most measurable community build from the Internet up" [Dan Doctoroff, CEO Sidewalk Labs]. How can we understand the realities and implications of an urbanism that so radically challenges the current physical and mental relationship between humans and architecture, and architecture and digital devices? This thesis examines the roles of architects when a city and its architecture are planned as a community of digital devices. It explores ways to disrupt and conceptualize Sidewalk Labs' strategy of a community where humans and non-human devices "live" among systems made for high-efficiency and performance, and the devices target the humans as subjects for data surveillance.
The digital community has become as important as the one with human bodies inhabiting actual physical space. In this case, the institution creating the community is a non-spatial network that allows inhabitants to connect socially and transactionally through devices. Apps have replaced architectural typologies.
If Diderot and d'Alembert's "Encyclopedia" can be considered a cornerstone of human enlightenment- what is the iPhone today?Both are created, collected and limited through human knowledge that sees the device as a physical and mental extension of the body. The tool has become a device. It captures the human and creates a digital reality. Architecture here is a blank space to facilitate that. In that world, good internet connections in virtual space are more valued than social interactions in physical space. Architecture now has to accommodate a community for physical digital bodies. How can architects still exist in this environment?
Körber, Katharina Elisa, "EncyclAPPedia: Confronting SideWalkLabs Digital Physical Community" (2019). Architecture Senior Theses. 451.
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