Forget The Jetsons, This Is The Future

The future of architecture is something we’ve been pondering quite a bit this week—it’s a place where concepts like augmented reality and interactive architecture are going to become much more familiar to us, enhancing our environments, overlaying structures, and changing aesthetics. Don’t like the color of your kitchen walls? No biggie, a few adjustments on your 3D digital monitor and it’s a different shade. Want some privacy in your shared studio apartment? Well, we’ll just project a darkened wall right here. But, of course, ruminating about the future can be dangerous work, there’s obviously a massive potential for error—just look at The Jetsons and their flying cars. So the best we can hope for is some educated guesswork.

And that’s exactly what’s been done by Greg Tran in the above film, called Mediating Mediums: The Digital 3d, which won the thesis prize at the Harvard Graduate School of Design this year. It’s a thoughtful account of how virtual and physical realities could merge together to create spaces that contain both digital and analogue materials. Much like those ideas explored by Factory Fifteen, but a more sober, academic reflection. The film explores the concept of a true digital third dimension—one that is not device specific—and speculates on how we’ll benefit when AR is integrated into our surroundings.

The true 3D digital won’t be just an elaboration of 2D through special glasses, like all those dull 3D movies. Instead, it’ll occur when, as Tran says in the video, there’s “a subject moving through space,” when the digital world truly inhabits our own through AR and the use of discreet interfaces like LED contact lenses. Tran even goes so far as to postulate what he calls a “hierarchy of medium,” which explains the types of buildings, virtual or otherwise, that architects could be constructing in the future. They’re broken down into four different categories (below). He then goes on to distinguish even further, outlining two types of digital 3D, the visual—overlays and simultaneous realities—and the operative, where invisible spatial barriers can turn functionalities on and off and have awareness of your spatial location.

It’s an intriguing and astute account, and is perhaps the most detailed and concise explanation of these complex ideas yet documented on film, showing how we might live in this hybrid world, tackling how these environments could be created and how we might interact with them. Essential viewing for any architect or aspiring futurist. So, yeah, forget The Jetsons and forget flying cars, this is what the future’s going to look like.