Koolhaas issues “sinister” smart home technology warning

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Rem Koolhaas has issued a warning that technology is infiltrating buildings, describing the rise of smart systems as “potentially sinister”.

TVs and sound systems that you can control through your smartphone, automated blinds and central air systems have become standard in many luxury residential development.

But speaking to website Dezeen, Koolhaas said: “There is a potentially sinister dimension to, before you know it, being surrounded by a house full of sensors that can follow you on the moment of entry, to the moment you set your bedroom temperature, to the moment you set your likely return to your house.

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“It creates, in my feeling, unhealthy knowledge of your personal behaviour preferences.”

The OMA founder claimed digital technologies represent the most radical shift in architectural practice for over a century – but that architects have overlooked potential dangers.

“The way we architects look at the digital is simplistic, because we see the digital simply as a domain that enables us a greater position and that ultimately – in the form of 3D printing for instance – may offer us a return to unfettered creativity,” he said.

“But in the meantime, a lot of businesses are actually looking at architecture as potential carrier of new technologies.

“There is a potentially sinister dimension to, before you know it, being surrounded by a house full of sensors that can follow you on the moment of entry, to the moment you set your bedroom temperature, to the moment you set your likely return to your house.”

Koolhaas said he saw the role digital technologies were having on architecture when OMA was researching for the Elements exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 where he was creative director.

The exhibition, which presented the history of architectural components like the staircase and the window, featured several modern domestic devices that function by tracking and recording the movements of a building’s occupants.

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