Open plan legibility and infoviz

Revisiting the Open Plan: Ceilings and Furniture as Display Surfaces for Building Information is a paper written by my colleague Mark Meagher, Jeffrey Huang and David Gerber for a conference called BuiltViz. The paper argues that one the flaws of the "open plan" in architecture is the lack of legibility, that created an "undifferentiated, homogeneous settings that failed to realize the original intentions of this architectural idea":

"The open plan would be highly disorienting if it were not possible to define boundaries between spaces, to set limits, to indicate zones of circulation, and otherwise to articulate in the plan an anticipated range of activities. For all their clear disadvantages, vertical space-defining elements such as walls clearly provide a sense of orientation and identity, and in their absence it was necessary for the early proponents of the open plan to invent new techniques for spatial definition and differentiation. "

A possible solution to go solve this problem, as suggested in the paper, is to use information visualization techniques. The authors then present two projects: one about an augmented ceiling, and another about interactie shelves.

"Embedded information technology offers an opportunity to support the differentiation and legibility of the open plan by sensing and displaying aspects of the building’s environmental conditions and patterns of use. We introduce two ongoing projects as examples of building interfaces that enhance the transparency of information in the building, using surfaces embedded in the building to reveal invisible attributes of the interior that can be used by inhabitants to better understand their environment."

Why do I blog this? even though the project has not been implemented yet, I found interesting the articulation between architectural theories and human-computer interaction research.