TABLE / TABLET / DATUM / DATA
So Young Lee
To address the digital divide between younger and older populations, this thesis proposes an intergenerational housing scheme that convenes residents around a single, supersized, multifunctional table – an offline technology for collective life. The research is motivated by two questions: 1. If our daily interactions can circumvent physical space through the use of digital technology, in what ways can architecture form meaningful collectives? 2. How might architecture address the increasing gap between older and younger adults resulting from uneven access to devices, apps, and the internet?
In contrast to the “smart home” that fosters connections primarily through networked gadgets, this project uses an architecturally-scaled table to facilitate both in-person and online interactions and many forms of data-exchange across age groups. On this continuous surface, meals are shared, games are played, and stories are told. The table can simultaneously be messy and clean: the site of unfinished projects, empty beer bottles, flower arrangements, and freshly-folded clothes. Moveable segments allow the table to break apart or expand in different ways, and its design accommodates fixed infrastructure like plumbing, electrical outlets, and vertical circulation. This extra-large furniture also assembles interlocking bedroom units on either side that momentarily absorb its communal surface into private space. Each unit pairs younger and older residents and opens to an individual terrace on a rooftop that, in its expansiveness and loose arrangement of furnishings, resembles the lived-in table beneath it. Constantly changing yet always the same, the supersized table transcends generational differences produced by digital culture by providing an extremely physical and flexible means to coexist, a seemingly infinite surface that simulates the limitless bounds of virtual space.