Innovation and technology: in search of true specificities

 
Shanghai Futures tech campus

Shanghai Futures tech campus

Tech Center RATP

Tech Center RATP

China Life tech campus

China Life tech campus

 

The term technology center continues to be wrapped in a certain aura of mystery as it does not afford a clear image of what is housed inside its walls. It is difficult to explain its typology, its function, the services it provides, etc... a task that becomes even more complicated when one adds associated words into the mix, such as data center, incubator, start-up, etc.

A building of this nature should, in theory, facilitate two types of usages: one slanted in a more traditional vein (workspaces, meeting rooms, etc.) and another oriented towards a technological inclusion (server rooms, laboratories, control rooms, hacking spaces, etc.). Instinctively, one could call this a hybridization of the building, a typology that combines a bank and an archival center, a library, a media complex, a museum, and a simple office building.

The insistence and incorporation of data (bytes), however, presents its own challenges, and privacy and protection become the chief preoccupations for clients and users. It is no surprise then that these buildings are often hidden from view, void of architectural character, rendered as opaque objects on the landscape. As we have become accustomed to the idea that within these structures are housed rows and rows of servers calculating sensitive algorithms, the public has accepted (tacitly) that these complexes take on the form of a bulky (and ugly) warehouse, something heavy and even scary. We suspect what goes on inside is not entirely innocent in nature (thanks Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook)... And more and more, we are aware that the cloud is in fact a place such as this: a giant, polluting container. Sans architecture. What a shame.

A technological architecture, then, is what? Today, it is about disappearing the building... perhaps this is no coincidence given the importance we give to our gadget culture.

For us, though, this architecture must resist such a trend.

Our contemporary cities (especially those in Europe) must integrate the potential of the digital age, using it to inspire a more intelligent integration with their already rich heritage. Estimating and anticipating the impact this will have on our culture and society will already being allowing us to witness a material change... as the power of the computer creates a more focussed architecture... more "avant-garde-ist" and less guarded, more transparent and less suspicious.

Only then will it be possible to define a truly technological building. Only then will we be able to deliver one.

 

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