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Responsive Environments and the sentient city, The Ephemeral City

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'Life is an endless journey across a world which is changing so rapidly that it seems other.'
Constant, New Babylon (1974)

IRHA is a non-profit research network comprised of the CCA, McGill University, University of Montréal, and Concordia University to investigate issues related to the history and theory of architecture, design and urban practices. For the year 2009-2010, IRHA will focus on the theme of the Ephemeral City - how contemporary urban space is increasingly shaped by new dynamic and temporary forces from economics to design and new technologies.

The modernist city that was formerly dictated and constructed chiefly by architecture and planning models is increasingly being confronted daily by temporal forces: the dynamics of unstable financial markets and fluctuating economic patterns of consumption and leisure, the rise of ecological processes and practices, the transformation of public space by the methods of branding, interaction and multi-sensory design and last, but certainly not least, the dissemination of new ubiquitous technologies of surveillance and monitoring that are rapidly revising our concepts of urban construction, fabrication, orientation and experience.

The Ephemeral City thus aims to grapple with issues in the urban context of Montréal related to temporal, performative phenomena that go beyond programs, plans, models and other static representations of the urban environment. Research proposed will focus on broader concepts such as performativity in urban space, the role of transience, liminality and improvisation in the city and its citizenry, the different interpolations of ecology and sustainability, urban experience economies generated by marketing in collaboration with design practices perception and sensation/sentience that goes beyond visual perception and co-structuration between inhabitants and the urban environment as a result of new technologies.

Chris Salter
Associate Professor of Computation Arts
Design + Computation Arts
Faculty of Fine Arts
Concordia University
  • Lucy Bullivant Architectural Curator and Critic, London, UK
  • Bruce Odland Composer and Sound Designer of Large scale urban sound environments, New York, USA
  • Harry Smoak Artist and PhD Researcher, Concordia University
  • Gonzalo Lizarralde Assistant Professor of Architecture, Director grif, University of Montreal
  • Mari Fuijita Assistant Professor of Architecture, UBC/SALA, Vancouver
  • Lilian Radovac PhD Researcher, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University
  • Zbigniew Oksiuta Architect and Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture, Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA
  • Essam Hallak Assistant Professor of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University


Ephemeral City

Jason Bruges, Wind to Light, Southbank, London, 2007 Jason Bruges, Wind to Light, Southbank, London, 2007
Lucy's lecture at the event