1. What’s an environment?

What is an environment? What are the materials that make up environments? How do we experience and notice environments? How do we invent an environment? Where do we begin?

The core idea behind the environments track is to approach the environment through the lens of a designer;  learn the basic design processes for experience-driven multi-modal environments;  make meaningful physical and virtual experiences through designing interactions in an environment.

Environments Track gives you an opportunity to think about the space differently by leveraging design patterns into an environmental design practice. Design patterns are known high quality solutions to known problems in a particular context.  The students will learn ways to design various types of environments through planning, structuring, and explaining/visualizing; utilize a range and combination of analog and digital tools for high fidelity output.

2. Understanding environments from a design perspective

We will study various types of environments (e.g. physical environments in which people dwell in,  digital space where people visit frequently, hybrid environments where the digital and the physical merge seamlessly).  Learn the design process of creating meaningful interactions in environments through series of mini-experiments. Research through hands-on activities, such as low-fi prototyping, rapid making and experiencing and analyzing existing environments will be encouraged. Throughout the course, students will focus on the following three areas:

1) PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS  that people inhabit for a range of timescales, where numerous activities take place.

2) DIGITAL ENVIRONMENTS  that people immerse themselves in.

3) HYBRID ENVIRONMENTS  such as digitally enabled, actuated, embedded environments of today and near futures. 

Students learn  to visually represent systems designed in environments. Design pieces that raise interesting questions about the notion of space to investigate ways to influence behaviors in an environment.  We will visit various types of environments around Pittsburgh. Here is a breakdown of our initial activities:

  • week 1: Explore digital experiences that are interlinked with the physical environment and analyze the design patterns, such as, Public Art at Carnegie Mellon University (PACMU), smart bus systems, Google Now and flights.
  • week 2: Sketch the links between the digital experiences and the physical environments. We’ll experience the space and create storyboards and replicate the environmental experience into a visual representation.
  • week 3: Through existing tools, we’ll learn ways to generate a custom experience of integrating the digital information into the physical surroundings.
  • weeks 4-7: Explore the future of the design studios as learning environments.

In the next four weeks we will work to generate mini-experiments and low-fi prototypes that will help build required skill sets and insights to generate the final project; A novel hybrid environment for learning in today’s or near future world. We look forward to working with you all!

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