NETWORK reconceives a tower as a stack of microclimates by expanding the suite of environmental management technologies typically found in a building to include internet infrastructure. In “A Home is Not a House,” Reyner Banham attributes the comfort of dwelling to mechanical services, not to a building’s physical shell. With technological innovations like air conditioning, architects could produce artificial environments independent of a site’s actual climate. Similarly, today’s internet has the ability to recreate the comfort of home regardless of location – it saves your preferences, connects you with friends and family, and grants access to your favorite streaming content. The router is the new hearth, and it is not by coincidence that climate and WiFi propagation share the heatmap as their primary mode of representation. This thesis demonstrates how spaces of networked efficiency and bodily pleasure need not be separate; instead, their coexistence can be engineered.
The proposal upgrades Intergate.Manhattan, a former telecommunications building that was recently renovated to accommodate offices and a data center on the top and bottom halves, respectively. Microclimates – each defined by a unique calibration of signal strength, thermal energy, hardware, softscape, color signature and volume – are introduced to interrupt and differentiate the stack of generic floorplates. Simply put, internet connectivity and data transmission directly correspond to temperature variations. Saturated in colorized media, the distributed environments playfully adopt tech-related terminology to reconceptualize programming: hotspot, incubator, surf, buffer, and recharge become zones of distraction and leisure within the workplace. The project recomposes raised floors, dropped ceilings, cable trays, and monitors to suggest new ways to gather. Users sweat in the residual heat of servers and bask in the cold glow of televisual light. In NETWORK, technical support extends into the domain of architecture.