ARC 591 – ARC 491

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

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Course Details

Course No.: 22782

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.