Public Panel Discussion

SCAD. Panel discussion. Mehul Bhatt, Christoph Hoelscher, Ömer Akin, Grbriela Goldschmidt, Wilfried Wang
This public panel discussion provides a unique opportunity for a wide audience to experience and understand the latest advances and current trends in the theory and practice of architecture design and its education, spatial cognition, and spatial computation. The panel will engage in discussions and debates on the core themes of the symposium. The aim is to identify how interdisciplinary application of knowledge may provide real benefit for the theory and professional practice of architecture design, and eventually, tangible benefit for the quality of everyday personal life and work.
SCAD Panel. Mehul Bhatt, Christoph Hoelcher, Ömer Akin, Eva-Maria Streier, Gabriela Goldschmidt, Wilfried Wang

Understanding People, Spaces, and Spatial Cognition

The Interaction of Architecture, and the Cognitive and Computational Sciences

Thursday November 17, DFG Office, NYC
18:00 - 21:00
Public Event
Download Invitation

The physical space in which humans live and work has far reaching implications on the nature and quality of everyday life and experiences. As Winston Churchill put it: `We shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us’. Understanding the space surrounding us has been a challenge for many disciplines. Architects shape space by designing buildings and cities. Psychologists and cognitive scientists investigate how humans understand space and how they behave in space. Computer scientists need to find ways of representing and computing with space, e.g., about its structure and perceived behaviour and function, within systems for design creation and analysis. People, i.e., users of designed spaces, serve a crucial role by the specification of design requirements at an abstract level.

Traditionally there has only been limited overlap between such disciplines and design stakeholders. What is missing is a holistic design creation and deployment paradigm encompassing every facet and stakeholder (e.g., users, designers, engineers, policy makers) in the design process. It is time to actively foster interdisciplinary connections to better understand the relations of design spaces & design practice, human spatial cognition, and spatial computation for design.

Bridging disciplines requires asking questions about the relation of art and science of design, analytic perspective vs. the synthesis of design creation, empirical evidence vs. design intuition, as well as technological support vs. creative autonomy. The panelists will investigate and discuss how cross-disciplinary perspectives can be developed and what hurdles need to be tackled.

Panel Programme

Panel Opening and Welcome Introduction

Busso von Alvensleben
Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York

Dr. Joann Halpern
Director, German Center for Research and Innovation
New York, USA

German Research Foundation (DFG), and
Panel Introduction

Dr. Eva-Maria Streier
Director, German Research Foundation (DFG)
North America, New York Ofice, USA
(panel moderator)

Short Introductions and position statements by Panelists

Towards a Holistic Approach for Spatial Design
Dr. Mehul Bhatt
University of Bremen, Germany

Contemporary architecture design tools regard eventual design products as isolated `frozen moments of perfection’. Even within state-of-the-art design tools, aspects such as commonsense, semantics, structure, function, behaviour, people-centred design - concepts that are implicitly known to designers - are yet to come to the fore. This panel discussion has been convened with the aim to initiate a dialog on a holistic approach - primarily encompassing architecture, cognitive science, psychology, computer science, and social science - for the creation and analyses of architectural designs."

Dr. Christoph Hoelscher
University of Freiburg, Germany

Understanding how humans react to buildings, for example how they move through it to find their way, is a key aspect for taking a user-centered perspective. Psychology and cognitive science can provide valuable input to an emerging evidence-based movement in architecture."

Prof. Ömer Akin
Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Today, by merging building and information technologies, including the personal computer, internet, handheld and wearable computers, sensors, BIM, BACnet, IFC, and intelligent computer applications that harvest, mine, and package relevant information, we are at the cusp of a new and powerful shift in the way we build and evaluate [building designs]."

Source: Embedded Commissioning

Prof. Gabriela Goldschmidt
TECHNION - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel

In designing spaces and structures, architects interact with external and internal representations of shapes and forms they generate in an incremental and iterative process to ensure a good fit with needs, requirements and desires. One of the affects of computational tools on this process is a vast expansion of the range of geometric potentials, coupled with a fairly poor proficiency to control the qualities of the resultant spaces and structures for proper use and well-being of humans. Not anything we can concoct with the help of computational power is worth actualizing; our challenge should be to match human-centered control capabilities to the generational power of computational design capacities."

Prof. Wilfried Wang
University of Texas at Austin, USA

"The real world and real patterns of human behavior require a real method of evaluation of the resources embodied and required in the maintenance and transformation of our built environment. This method of evaluation needs to bring together the world of science with the world of design so as to provide a holistic understanding of the qualities that each individual designed object possesses, and in turn, which qualities the environment as a whole has. The proposed method of evaluation is based on human cognitive modes and creates neither a virtual world nor a set of indigestible concepts and neologisms."

18:55 - 20:00
Panel Discussion
Understanding People, Spaces, and Spatial Cognition
The Interaction of Architecture, and the Cognitive and Computational Sciences
Moderator: Dr. Eva-Maria Streier

German Research Foundation
German Center for Research and Innovation