• Date: Winter 2012

dataFab came from a desire to move beyond a dominant theme of our curriculumn: "digital fabrication." Instead of limiting the role of the digital to the design of architectural assemblies, we sought to explore the possibilities of imbuing data/information into those assemblies?

To facilitate this exploration we decided to repurpose an available dataset: the XML which drives our universities smartphone app. That data gives the location and ETA for all the active buses on campus, which was translated into The idea was twofold: to allow people to know from a simple glance how long till a bus arrived.

I was responsible for making sense of and parsing the XML into the information we desired, and coming up with and implementing the code to drive LEDs embedded in plywood.


The iPhone has gone beyond being a commercial success and onto being a cultural force. But what do these devices mean for space. Highly addictive, they captivate us despite their small screens thanks to their proximity. In so doing they demand our attention - to be snubbed by a significant other, or a child, checking their email is a fate few enjoy. Is there room for architecture to intervene?

Laugier’s primitive hut and successive models have talked of architecture most basically as shelter. While anyone with a leaky roof can tell you, water-tightness is still an important aspect of a building, can architecture also shelter from the information deluge? Just as Simmel writes of the blase condition found in children raised in the metropolis, the question arises as to the effect of this overabundance of information on the psyche. Two trajectories emerge: an architectural fortress, lead-lined concrete walls cocooning the user from information. Alternatively, the information inundates the house a sort of (frozen) background music. The user gains the ability to ignore it, selectively tuning in when it suits them. Rather than the phone vibrating during dinner, the house’s constant dull vibration can be tuned into by the user.

Historically, “Ubiquitous computing has as its goal the enhancing computer use by making many computers available throughout the physical environment, but making them effectively invisible to the user.”1 Today, we may find that the end goal is not to enhance computer use but to reroute human-device interaction through objects and spaces that we inherently interface, or “machines that fit the human environment instead of forcing humans to enter theirs.”2 This places the technology in our periphery or background, rather than foreground. Through our research and making, we strive to practice computing and data management within the process of digital fabrication–from design to experiencing the build work. The charge of this thesis is to integrate technologies with a construction assembly—synthesizing analog and digital entities for the purpose of converting site-specific ambient information into useful urban metric. Our process will involve synthesizing regional data and parsing applicable information into a fabricated physical space through light and color.

1. IEEE Computer “Hot Topics”, October 1993. Mark Weiser, August 16, 1993
2. J. York, P.C. Pendharkar, “Human–computer interaction issues ..” Int. J. Human-Computer Studies (2004)