Friday, April 4, 2014

Let start to leave the Form that has affected all the Contemporary Architecture with the 
fragmentation in elements!

Who doesn't love the spatial revolution we all lived in the XX century and is lasting on the XXI.
Revolution started with the contribution of Artists like Dubuffet, Richard Serra and carried on with Architects like Frank Ghery, Zaha Hadid, Massimiliano Fuksas, Coop Himmerblau, UNSTUDIO, MAD and supported using advanced software and virtual spaces. But if Architecture is not a matter of stile and all our masters and Sons seems to be stocked on copying there new or already old forms then we have to figure out how to move on. If we do not do this exercise then there is no meaning of Architecture!. The fragmentation in element of the form could be a way to move away towards a new perception of space.
This model is build toward this space research and again is a first step to challenge our beloved Masters.


Sunday, March 4, 2012


A citizen represent the first vector that generate a city, he lives in a community in order to obtain a surplus value that an aware community is able to provide.
This surplus value means: facilities, social and economic opportunities possible although through progress, civilization, culture and social, technical humanistic knowledge.
The meaning of knowledge here is never referred to the culture of the single man, but to the great quantities of information, culture and data shared in a community network and that can be used for our needs or for the common good.
The etymological meaning, city from civilization that comes from the Latin word civitas furthermore civis, citizen and the humanistic meaning that comes from the man, the culture and the knowledge, moves us toward a cyclic structure.
Nevertheless cities can be describe like a complex system shaped along different axes from many vectors, where the humanistic one represent only an abstract concept that however, moving in a space of culture and knowledge define a quality parameter.
The humanistic vector become a pillar that supports, not only human story and men identities, but also the ambitions of men toward progress, straighter related to a thirst of knowledge that brings us to civilization. Continuing on this point of view becomes extremely interesting value the process that bring us to a smart cities like an important opportunity that permit to start working on tasks that bring us to progress.
Following a first definition smart cities are shaped along six axes: smart economy; smart mobility; smart environment; smart people; smart living; e smart governance.
In the iper-space defined by the six smart axes we are invited to move our vectors working on the next tasks:

a) optimization and improvement of the facilities through the development of information technologies (ICT), that permit also together with the citizen participation, just like is happening with internet, to share a community knowledge network, indeed, a social capital that we can take advantage;

b) improve the environment through policy that allowed a sustainable energetic development.

These two points a) and b) seems to agree with the humanistic paradigm.
Talking about the social capital the reference to humanistic paradigm is quite easy to found, instead the link between a sustainable energetic development is more difficult to comprehend maybe because we misunderstand an humanistic approach with the humanistic culture.
Indeed, if we use a humanistic approach, similar to the one used by Leonardo da Vinci, we can learn that the first task is the observation of ourselves: an action that require commitment and humility.

For example from the observation of our bodies we can learn that we are the result of an economic principle, that follow a natural selection done in thousand of years. As a consequence every part of our body is shaped to perform the better results in comparison to the energetic resources available.
Indeed, even if today we can enjoy of an excess of energetic resources in our diet, never the less we are aware to not exceed with food in order to not compromise our health.
Observing ourselves, our bodies we can learn that sustainability isn’t only a matter of energy production but also of energy saving and an aware knowledge of energy consumption.

We have seen how development of ICT together with policies that improve sustainable energy, represent a good start for an humanistic development of our cities.
However these actions are not enough to aim at a smart city from a humanistic point of view.
To better comprehend what is still missing probably is more useful to have an example than to find a theoretical definition.
So, take your smart phone or tablet, turn on the device and see the display, now sincerely, how many of us has never thought that the language that we are using is logo graphic, similar to the pictograph used by man like first writing system five thousand years ago.
The logo graphic language seems to perform better than the alphabetic one in our mobile devices, furthermore becoming a intuitive and rapid interface.
Now compare the display of an i-phone with these Mayan glyphs found at Palenque in Mexico's and dating from the third century BC.
Also if you look closely, we realize that our "new glyphs" contain much less information than the ones 2300 years older that we consider primitive. Hence this lost forms of communication, part of the cultural knowledge man, can then be still useful to the developer of these interfaces that studying these languages can discover or understand new potential of these writing systems.

Here we come through a humanistic approach to understand also how is strategic to cultivate a humanistic culture: this is in fact capable of giving a meaning, a value and a different evocation on the network of knowledge that we will be able to have in our smart cities through the development of ICT.
Through awareness, possible only through a humanistic approach, we are able to turn the logographic language of a smart phone into an active experience, from a cultural point of view, and therefore able to contribute to our civilization, our community and consequently to our cities, instead of having a passive attitude that brings human being to a cultural impoverishment.

If we have the ambition to turn our cities into smart then we must dedicate ourselves, as well as the development of technology also to the participation of an aware community able to represent the head and the heart of the smart city.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Soon most of our cities will change into i-city, similar to the smartcity but with an additional research of a humanistic aim. Here the acronym “i” ,used by the well known hardware products, gets the meaning of intelligent, invisible and internet and describe a complex evolution that will revolutionize the way we live in the city.

The i-city is a set of: i-houses, public and private i-offices, i-health structures, i-hospitality structures, i-educational structures, i-leisure facilities, ect. We will have also subsets of these sets that for example in our house will be: i-energy supply, i-water supply, i-refrigerator, i-washmachine…. until you get to the tools we use every day such as smartphones and tablets.    
To well comprehend how these systems of sets will transform our life in the cities, we have to wonder on the meaning of the “i” that will symbolize the evolution of our sets.

The first step to take care of our “i” is  to have easy access to the "internet". Private and public companies have worked hard dealing this task in the last years and today we can take advantage of a good and growing available internet access around the world.     

Also on the second step, having an” invisible" process, through the development of nanotechnology and wi-fi and wilress networks we are able to reach excellent results.

But the real challenge for the future is on the third step: transform the “i” in intelligent.
Realy, we are using the adjective intelligent improperly and our systems with the "i" in front, for now, will not have the ability to self think or take complex solutions such as the famous spaceship in "2001: a space Odyssey” of Stanley Kubrick.
Then why we call these sets intelligent? Because these sets allow us to use intelligence.
Intelligence sometimes is not enough to solve problems or find solutions, we have to find previously the way to obtain the data, then treated in order to achieve the analysis: these will direct
us on the problem.

Through the data evidence, most of the time, we understand  how we were not able to see problems that require simple solutions.

These are the reasons why Carlo Ratti, one of the brightest minds working on these issues, founded in 2004 "Senseable CityLab", a research group at the MIT that aims to investigate and anticipate how digital technologies are changing the way people live and their implications at the urban scale
One of the first step towards a smat city is a sensible city capable to obtain data that can be analyzed in order to understand the city behaviour and plan smart solutions.

Thus, for example, if we are in a bus stop and we have a smart phone connected to the network, we can see the waiting time of each bus and so be able to plan our trip or, in case of important delays, decide an alternative route or as often happens to me in Rome, because of the traffics jam, take a walk.

Learning from the internet the next step, in other to reach the i-city, is to have data share systems.
Going on with the example on the mobility in our cities if we inform, and so the whole community, our journey during the day to a management city company that deal with the traffic, we could be informed previously on possible traffic jam and as a consequence choose an intelligent solution:
change route; reschedule our appointments; plan our time aware that we will be in stuck in the traffic and furthermore, if we are riding a car, we have also decide to be the traffic jam.
Moreover, learning from this example, sharing other habit of our life with a i-city network, we could obtain a prediction of the real market demand and allow public and private companies to optimize their offer and production.

Today our economy works like a water system with pipes full of holes, where a large amount of water is lost along the way. Sharing our data in a i-city data system, we could repair many of these holes ensuring a great amount of water to redistribute in a smart way.
Our cities can develop into intelligent if the whole community participates in this process.
This is why the success of an i-city is closely related to our contribution on sharing data, and this is also the reason why the interface, that allow an easy access to the users, is becoming increasingly important. Moreover is possible to take a considerable advantage by developing an interface network in a sensible post-desktop system of "ubiquitous computing "as theorized by Mark WeiserI consider very interesting the Approach to this thematic of AdamGreenfield.

Even if we are in the right way, which leads us to an i-city, we are missing a fundamental aspect: cities couldn’t be thought only in terms of performance or optimization of services, but instead we need to wonder about the quality for the man and of the man that lives the city.

This approach brings us to a humanistic paradigm where the evolution of our cities has to follow the research of an intelligent man. The technology such as super processor and nanotechnology can’t help us in this research, but we can still learn something trying to find some parallelism with the Vitruvian paradigm in a conceptual point of view.
Instead of starting studying the smart environment of our cities we can found the archetype by learning through the men: just like in seismic design where we can learn more by studying the virtual or real response of bodies stressed by seismic actions than viewing a seismic record of an accelerogram, in a i-city we have to learn by the citizen reaction and design around their needs, ambitions, emotions and perceptions.
The man that we have to study is the man that live in a i-haouse, works in a i-office, dose shopping in a i-shop, meet his friends in a social network and live in a i-city.
Compared to the man of the renaissance, drew by Leonardo da Vinci, we have perception of the modern man, not only through the body but also through the internet and the media.
As an Architect I give to perception a role much important than reality. Indeed, following the lesson given by Fidia designing the Parthenon, where geometry is shaped considering the perception human laws, everything is think and designed taking care of what we see and neither what it is: we believe that dimension of columns and distance between them are equal but they are not, we see the stylobate straight but is curved (see wilkepedia).
The perception paradigm has been used also in art and architecture by Bernini, Borromini, Piranesi (Le Carceri drawings), Escher, Richard Serra and bring us to the same Paradox of the Vitruvian paradigm used for the renaissance: conceptual models are not effected by time such as man life seems to be.
So, how can we study the man that lives the i-city of the future if this is still not been built?
If the paradox argument is correct, we can study the man of the future using the paradigm of intelligence in Greek Mythology represented by Athena.
In Athena, goddess of war, intelligence/war strategy is linked directly to the imagination and as a chess game wins the player who predict the next moves entering into the mind of the opponent.
In the Greek Mythology, indeed, Athena daughter of  Metis, the goddess of crafty thought and wisdom, born fully armed from the forehead of the father Zeus.
Then the paradigm of the i-city of the future must be found in the head of the modern man through the intelligence of Athena.
If we call Pat both the paradigm and the modern man then we can elaborate a conceptual model where, like in the sketch below, we are asked to imagine our space within a space designed for us to imagine.

This challenge bring us to the idea of Patcitieslab an experimental platform, open to anyone who desire to share this space with us, where we start to think by fragments the cities of the future.

Sebastiano Granetto