Project type: Undergraduate thesis (SCIARC, 1997)
Location: Los Angeles, USA
The modern city has traditionally been constructed and viewed in opposition to the body—a “natural” man in contrast to the built environment. The latest shift in cultures and economies brings along a shift in perception: the corporal has become a technical problem while machines and buildings are personified to be “smart”, invested with microchips and artificial sensory skills. The qualitative merger between humans and their artifices represents a fundamental breakdown in the division of nature and culture; the body and the city.
Prostheses, which have traditionally been applied towards disabilities, are now being utilized to increase levels of comfort. This application of prostheses in combination with its definition as “an artificial device to replace a missing part of the body” implies that the body is somehow lacking in nature. Consequently, this deficiency is supplemented by artifacts of encapsulation (autos), implantation (contact lenses) and extension (remote devices), creating a fluid exchange between artifice and nature.
The implications of this paradigm shift can be expressed in architecture by challenging the static boundaries of buildings in relationship to the body. With the emergence of the mechanized human, where does the skin of the building end and that of the body begin? This thesis endeavors to update the house as a machine for living to the house as a prosthesis for comfort.