Prof Stephen Gage

Sense Editor
June 22, 2011

Stephen Gage is Professor of Innovative Technology and the Course Coordinator in the Post Graduate Certificate in Advanced Architectural Research within the The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL.

Professor Gage adopts a research outlook that is mindful of how different forces, technological and architectural for instance, can co-determine one another:

“I am interested in the way that the technology of building relates to the external environment….During my long experience as a designer I have sustained an interest in the way that the technology of building can subtly modify the internal environment.”

Stephen Gage

Stephen Gage has utilised speculative – design approaches in his work previously such as when he and Will Thorne proposed the ‘Edge Robots’, a design strategy that encourages a ‘bottom-up’ approach to environmental control. The project asked whether it is possible to populate the edges of buildings with location-specific robots that both operate environmental modifiers and encourage building users to be sparing in their energy consumption.  As wemakemoneynotart notes:

The small robots would patrol building facades, regulating energy usage and indoor conditions. The machines would also “gesture meaningfully to internal occupants” when building users are clearly wasting energy. We need all the persuasion we can get to modify our behavior before the planet is severely compromised.

Gage’s teaching practice is also informed by cybernetics, most clearly in his ‘The Wonder of Trivial Machines’. This paper argues that physical architecture can be observed as a trivial machine (as understood from the writings of Heinz von Foerster) nested inside another machine whose function is unknown. Thiss produces the attributes of non-trivial machines; ie delight and surprise.

Harking back to cybernetic theory also inform’s Gage’s ‘Constructing the User’ which explores alternative, more enriching means of constructing the user of the built environment and that also poses the question: “how do we relate transient uses and experiences to environments that of necessity have to last for a very long time?”

Making An Ecology Workshop

One can witness these influences within: Agent based Interactives (EPSRC funded) (2005-2006). The project worked with primary school children to create an interactive floor installation consisting of an ecology of autonomous agents (including passing people).

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