This is our primary question: with the inexorable advance of digital technologies along all fronts of human endeavor, whither architecture?
We identify performance as the primary criterion to revealing a new paradigm for architecture. We do not delimit this definition to the role traditionally played by mechanical and quasi-mechanical technologies in the optimization of environmental control systems and building skins. Nor do we intend to ascribe to performance the interpretation narrowly defined by the emergence of digital gadgetry, primarily optical in methodology, which have nonetheless already radically altered the means by which we negotiate our environment, built and otherwise. The focus of our work, then, is to make the building responsive, to see the performance of the user as an integrated part of the building. A performative architecture will have the user become a central part of the experience in a way that modernist thought, absorbed as it was with function, could embrace in only a desiccated form.
We seek to engage a notion of performance that encompasses these definitions in a wider arc: one that seeks an understanding of a broad interface between architecture and technology, and one that attempts to solicit optimal collateral advantage from their respective strengths. From architecture, we affirm presence as its quintessential condition, its inalienable concreteness, with the necessarily contingent properties of Benjamin’s ‘tactile appropriation’. And from technology, we recognize the emergence of models of interactivity and intelligence that allow for not only new possibilities for the inhabitation and manipulation of space, but for indications of a new definition of architecture itself.