I attended the WHAT IS A SCHOOL? Symposium
keynote at UofT this past Friday. The symposium marked the first use (a test!)
of Principal Hall, the main lecture hall for the Daniels building since it’s opening
last year. It is quite remarkable how early you can occupy a building before
it’s actually completed. If this building is any example, apparently occupancy for substantial completion before 100% completion is “very early”. Criticism aside, the space
worked well, and the acoustics were not noticeably terrible. In other words,
the hall worked great! I sat in the loose seating on the floor but discovered
later that the tired fixed seating further back was not only more comfortable but
also afforded a much better view of the stage. Next time.

What I wanted to muse about this time had
less to do with the content of the keynote (though it is
certainly worth a discussion point for later), but on the topic of education as
it might relate to my project vision.  I
had some early notes made for what AR could mean for students. I found that
more often than not, as a student, we spend a lot of time scrounging the
library (now more the internet) for information on buildings. Not just the surface
stuff – name, date, square footage, basic construction. But things like
envelope construction, material data, details & wall/floor composition.
There is now an enormous source available for that, and it’s only growing. The question is then, (and a challenge to myself), can my idea make it worth a student’s
time to use and learn from?

The biggest weakness in AR thus far, imo, has
always been it’s “gimmick-y-ness”. I can attest; once something seems
slow, buggy or clunky, I dismiss it almost immediately. But what if, clunkiness
aside, a database of details on famous as well as new/upcoming buildings can be made readily available? Through a mediated physical/digital world overlay built for users to analyze,
criticize, learn from and show appreciation. I think it would be neat. 

But neat isn’t what the world is looking for.

So I have some questions for myself. In the
fast paced and efficiency driven nature of today’s society, new ideas need to
provide value. What is the value for this type of database + interactive
overlay. How often would it be used? Would it be used at all? Would it be more
useful for architects, or architecture students?

A test 002 is on it’s way.