Chris Speed


This thesis proceeds from an analysis of practice and critical commentary to claim that the opportunities presented to some architectural practices by the advent of ubiquitous digital technology have not been properly exploited. The missed opportunities, it claims, can be attributed largely to the retention of a model of time and spaces as discrete design parameters, which is inappropriate in the context of the widening awareness of social interconnectedness that digital technology has also facilitated. As a remedy, the thesis shows that some social considerations essential to good architecture - which could have been more fully integrated in practice and theory more than a decade ago - can now be usefully revisited through a systematic reflection on an emerging use of web technologies that support social navigation. The thesis argues through its text and a number of practical projects that the increasing confidence and sophistication of interdisciplinary studies in geography, most notably in human geography, combined with the technological opportunities of social navigation, provide a useful model of time and space as a unified design parameter. In so doing the thesis suggests new possibilities for architectural practices involving social interaction. Through a literature review of the introduction and development of digital technologies to architectural practice, the thesis identifies the inappropriate persistence of a number of overarching concepts informing architectural practice. In a review of the emergence and growth of 'human geography' it elaborates on the concept of the social production of space, which it relates to an analysis of emerging social navigation technologies. In so doing the thesis prepares the way for an integration of socially aware architecture with the opportunities offered by social computing. To substantiate its claim the thesis includes a number of practical public projects that have been specifically designed to extend and amplify certain concepts, along with a large-scale design project and systematic analysis which is intended to illustrate the theoretical claim and provide a model for further practical exploitation.

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