How buildings learn - revisited


Many of you have probably heard of the book "How buildings learn: What happens after they're built" by Stewart Brand. The book discusses the evolution of buildings and how buildings adapt to changing requirements over long periods of time, and has been widely quoted by interactive designers everywhere as it provides insights about designing for change that easily translates to interactive design.


The basic idea in the book is that feedback from the use and behavior of a building will allow for evolutionary design improvement. Since a building (probably) will need to serve different needs, the best buildings are those who successfully change to suit new uses, and one should therefore avoid elements that work against this.

The more general idea is that your product might have a long life and you should construct it so that it can easily be modified to handle future requirements.

In July 2008 Stewart Brand released the six-part, three-hour, BBC TV series aired in 1997 based on the book on Google Video. The series is presented and co-written by Stewart Brand, the music is by Brian Eno, and this is definitely one of the hidden gems of the Internet. Enjoy!

"How buildings learn" on Google Video: