Following recent communication with Adam Somlai-Fischer at Zuiprezi, who I hope can get to talk at the be2camp event in October, I took a look at the Reconfigurable House, a concept environment developed by Adam constructed from thousands of low tech components that can be “rewired” by visitors.
So far so good, but reconfigurations can be made endlessly as people change their minds, so that the House can take on completely new behaviours.
Smart homes actually aren’t very smart simply because they are pre-wired according to algorithms and decisions made by designers of the systems, rather than the people who occupy the houses.
so the user gets to configure the usability level, excellent, but:
if the House is left alone for too long, it gets bored, daydreams and reconfigures itself….
The Reconfigurable House is open source, registered through Creative Commons which seems to allow you to download the code and create your very own reconfigurable home, or upload your own configurable devices into the house suite.
Arguments as to who has control of the remote may take on a whole new dimension.
It seems we are becoming awash with green buildings, eco homes and eco towns.
There are some great sites out there with green architecture eye candy (check out Mad Architecture for example).
We have some major and significant conferences and events on the horizon – from the international Eco City 2008, Green Build 2008 and West Coast Green, here in the UK Think 08, and more locally the Elevate Exemplar event in September and the Lancs Best Practice Club July event. All very different and important to their target audiences.
Even in Second Life there are great green and sustainable ‘built environment’ demonstration and education projects
And yet in all the design, conferences, events and working groups I see very little about the usability of green buildings – what is it like to work, live and play in them? What does the comfort level within (and around) green building do for health, for productivity and for well being? What is it really like to be a citizen of a eco-city such as Auroville?
Once again I am convinced its not the building – green or other wise – but the way we use buildings that is paramount importance on the sustainability agenda – as Prof Keith Alexander down at the Center for Facilities Management comments – its about building consumption – not production.
Time to turn the telescope around? Is the green / sustainability movement in the built environment stuck in the building production with eye candy design, at the expense of the usability of the buildings?
As a Friday comment – I am throwing down a challenge for comments and evidence – are Green Buildings usable?
I invite guest posts here and links to sites that discuss this issue.
Are the current problems and issues at Heathrow T5 a facilities management issue – one of usability, people and end user experience.
A glitch perhaps, but a costly one, in a very complex operation, one of the most complex airport moves ever, yet facilities are increasingly measured in the sense of users ‘experience’.
But with reportedly 6 months of dry runs of a terminal “built around the worlds most sophisticated baggage handling system”, the wonderful success of the design and construction will be marred, for a while at least, by operational, usability and fm issues.
The experience should have been, and probably will be one of a natural, logical journey that’s so calm, you’ll flow through.
All shine on the outside of a 4billion edifice, but nothing works, as one disgruntled passenger but it on BBC News.