ARC 491 – ARC 591

ARC 491 – ARC 591– Multiplying Perspectives: Aging, Technology, and the Cyborg Condition

Course Preview Image
Course Details

Course No.: 22781

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2017 Fall

Location: Hayes Hall – 327

Meeting Day(s): Thursday

Meeting Time: 11:00AM - 1:40PM

Faculty: Gunawan

The accumulated effects of aging are altering how a growing population of Americans perceive and navigate the built environment. This process is compounded to varying degrees by physical disabilities (e.g. osteoarthritis, frailty), sensorial deterioration (e.g. macular degeneration, hearing loss), and cognitive diseases (e.g. dementia, Alzheimer’s). To mitigate the effects of aging, individuals are turning to an expanding market of assisted living supports which include physical prosthetics, biological augmentation and technological systems. The outcome is an elderly population which could be considered “cyborgs”; dependent on the hybridization of technology and their environment to sustain their aging bodies.


In this seminar we will investigate how aging and technology affect human sensory, cognitive and physical interactions with architectural space. Using posthuman theory and collective discussion, we will interrogate the prevalence of the “normal” human body in architectural practice in order to extend design subjectivity to a growing range of alterities.


Over the course of the semester we will immerse ourselves, through research, experiments and representations, in the symptoms and perceptions associated with the specific conditions of aging. In support of this research we will engage in multi-sensory experiences to challenge our understanding of our environment. We will experiment with multimedia forms of representation to develop methods for communicating alternative perceptions of architectural space. Through these diverse modes of operating, students will develop rigorous research and innovative representation skills that will culminate in the production of an experimental visualization and a chapter of an illustrative research publication.


The seminar seeks inquisitive individuals interested in examining the diversity of the human condition in an era of pervasive technology and aging populations. Together we will explore the unique perceptual world of elderly cyborgs to multiply the perspectives through which we operate as designers and cultivate empathy in architectural practice.


Multiplying Perspectives is a graduate seminar that extends from the research of the 2017-18 Reyner Banham Fellow.

























and further beyond–we will approach these and other developments from multiple angles, situating them in the larger historical arc of the spatial and structural practice of higher education.


We will incorporate film, art, literature and archival artifacts that engage with various aspects of campus, interrogating through them the relationship of architecture to creative practice, media representation, and political action. Weekly coursework will emphasize field excursions and collective discussions alongside

a series of written and enacted exercises and propositions, culminating in an in situ campus intervention.














The seminar seeks curious minds inter- ested in independent design research and the myriad forms and formats it takes up. It seeks bodies drawn to the politics of everyday landscapes and in reacting to them in personal and idi-

osyncratic ways. Participants should be inclined not only to collaboration as a given, but to testing collaboration’s shape, texture, and boundary in relation to the subject at hand.