Living City

A Project by The Living, Van Alen Institute New York Prize Fellows

Through hands-on design and prototyping, we investigated three parallel tracks of research and three definitions of the Living City.


LIVING CITY: A platform for the future when buildings talk to one another

In the future, buildings will talk to one another. In the era of ubiquitous computing—as sensors disappear into the woodwork and all kinds of data is transferred instantly and wirelessly—buildings will communicate information about their local conditions to a network of other buildings. Architecture will come to life.

Living City is an ecology of facades where individual buildings collect data, share it with others in their social network, and respond to the collective body of knowledge.


LIVING CITY: An exploration of the vitality of the city through new forms of public space—air and facade

In the future, public space in the city will be everywhere. Air will be public space. Building facades will be public space. Both will belong equally to everyone in the city, no less valuable than the traditional fixed public space of parks and streets. At the intersection of air and facade, public space will be distributed and dynamic. Architecture will come to life.

Living City is a definition of air as public space and building facades as public space.


LIVING CITY: A prototype facade that breathes in response to air quality

In the future, walls will breathe. Construction materials and systems that have been inert for thousands of years will respond in real time to the dynamic conditions of their surroundings and to a larger network of data. Buildings will host public interfaces to air quality and make visible the invisible conditions of the environment. Architecture will come to life.

Living City is a full-scale building skin designed to open and close its gills in response to air quality.