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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Are visitors to malls and Dubai buildings controlled by algorithms?

We spoke to the architect Richard Fenne, who has worked on the master plans for Dubai Design District and City Walk residential, to find out.

The Rain Room. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation
The Rain Room. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation

Are visitors to malls and Dubai buildings really controlled by algorithms, as the artists behind Rain Room suggest? We spoke to the architect Richard Fenne, who has worked on the master plans for Dubai Design District and City Walk residential, to find out.

“This is something that we in the business have been shifting our focus to,” Fenne agrees. “It’s really about curating spaces that are more aligned to the way people live. Part of that is exploring the relation between space and people through the use of technology, either using artificial intelligence, spatial cognition or algorithms.”

Fenne, who is a principal at the company Woods Bagot, notes that most of technology’s use in architecture has been in gathering data and creating algorithms to anticipate future use of the space. “In the past, design has been more intuitive. More and more, we are using technology to inform evidence-based design decisions.”

New technologies are mostly put in play before design, rather than while the building is running. “You can look at technology software to see at how people are moving through space – that can help to get an understanding of how traffic circulates. What lifts are people using, which floors in the malls are getting the most crossover, where are the dead areas – all that can be done prior to the design of the building by using quite sophisticated software tools that would predict human behaviour.”

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Read more:

Dancing in the rain at Sharjah Art Foundation’s 'Rain Room'

Interactive play running at NYUAD tells the stories of Syria's fallen

Ibrahim El-Salahi: from Khartoum to Oxford, with art and love

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