Thoughts after the lab retreat

Today was the lab retreat day, a sort-of get-together moment in which we discussed the lab strategy, on-going research projects + pending projects. Given that I work here for one month, it was a good introduction for me to the lab mission as well as what people are doing there. The Media and Design lab's focus, broadly speaking, is the reinvention of space because of digitalization. Being part of both a computer science (Human-Computer Interaction) and architecture department makes it very multi-disciplinary. The research staff is indeed composed of researchers with interdisciplinary backgrounds, including architecture, robotics, electric engineering, information visualization, cognitive science, organizational behavior, psychology, and mathematics.

The lab examines the possibilities of merging physical and digital environments, by designing, making, prototyping and testing radically new technologies, such as interactive artifacts, mobile interfaces, and augmented architectural/urban spaces.

lab retreat discussion

Some of the challenges we discussed: - The lab is about DESIGN+STUDY, with also a "meta" interest in methodologies (how to design, how to study what has been designed). - building and making is "a glue" for the team and also to bridge the gap between architecture and computer sciences. - architecture/design is beyond problem solving, it's about finding new problems - terminology issues like the fact that we artificially discriminate the "physical" and "digital" environments (and avoid to use the term "virtual" which is conflicting and often evocative of 3D worlds) - the lab is a platform for research and learning

Each of us discussed why we joined the lab and what do we want to get out from it, that was really interesting to see the diversity of opinions. As for me, my point was to be immersed in a design/architecture environment to learn about the culture (how they see space and place for example) and the processes (how to design, how they communicate, talk and produce things about projects). My point was indeed to confront my expertise (user experience research / psychology / HCI) to design/architecture concepts and methods to eventually enrich us accordingly.