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Human Interfaces in Adaptive Architecture

This essay will focus on the creation or development of human interfaces that are deemed to further reduce the gap that exists between computers and human beings. The focus will be on adaptive architecture and computation in the development and design of architecture and buildings. Adaptive architecture involves the use of technology to create architectural designs and the environment that react to changes in demand, structure and behavior of users. Technology in adaptive architecture ensures that emergent forms are created to adapt to the occupation and application of the piece of architecture to its intended purpose. The adaptive architecture ensures that the design is embodied and incorporated within the experience of the user to the components of the design which are evident in the environment. It, therefore, involves the incorporation of computing technology to the development of architectural designs and buildings that relate to the environment (Schnadelbach et al 2006).

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Adaptive architecture involves the system adapting or changing according to the structure and behavior of buildings. The working system is what is usually subject to change in adaptive architecture rather than the abstract architecture itself. Such working systems that are found in architectural designs and buildings include temperature controls, lighting, home automation and control (Schnadelbach et al 2006). Just as with other computerized functions, the adaptive architecture incorporates the use of basic human-computer interfaces which are otherwise referred to as user interfaces. In developing a more human interface to the architectural design through the use of computation technology, the aspect of human-computer interfaces needs to be understood and explained comprehensively. In the industrial design of human-machine interactions, the user interface is identified as the place where the interaction between humans and machines takes place. Human-computer interactions involve various fields such as computer science, behavioral science as well as industrial engineering in coming up with appropriate interfaces that can be used to bridge the gap that exists between humans and machines (Kumar 2005).

The increasing trend to develop buildings that are more adaptive in nature has involved the incorporation of various disciplines that deal with both architecture and computer technology. Such disciplines include architectural planning, computer science, architectural design, graphic design and interactive computational technology and they are important in the development of buildings that involve urban integration, human interface technology and computational techniques (Schnadelbach et al 2006). Human interface design in adaptive architecture incorporates the same concepts and knowledge that exist in developing human-computer interactions with machines and computerized systems.

Human-computer interaction studies deal with user interface systems where human beings interact with machines. The study of human-computer interactions is important as they help to improve the interactions that human beings have with computers and other computerized machines. There are various types of user interfaces that exist in the technological world today and these interfaces include graphical user interfaces (GUIs) such as keyboards, mouse and monitors, web-based user interfaces (WUIs) such as Java scripts, web pages, HTML links, touch screens, command-line interfaces, multi-screen interfaces, object-oriented interfaces and task focused interfaces, voice user interfaces, text interfaces and reflexive user interfaces as well as non-command user interfaces (Kumar 2005).

The main goal of human-computer interaction studies is to create user interfaces that make it easy for users to effectively operate computerized systems and also enjoy their experience as they use the machine. This goal can only be achieved if the interface is able to provide the user with minimal output to achieve the desired output. To effectively determine the human-computer interaction, both aspects have to be studied according to the available knowledge on both concepts. The study of the human-computer interaction with relation to computers involves gaining knowledge and information from fields such as computer programming, operating system knowledge and programming languages. Explaining the human aspect of the human-computer interaction will involve incorporating knowledge from fields such as behavioral and social science, cognitive psychology, communication theory and industrial design (Bastide et al 2005).

In adaptive architectural design, interactive interfaces are usually designed to pick up on cues that are developed by behaviors that exist in different objects or controls within the environment that have functionality and can be able to transmit information. Establishing the interaction that exists between these objects and the architecture as well as the architectural design is a cause of concern for many programmers and architectural designers. If buildings are deemed to be adaptive, then appropriate human interfaces need to be developed to ensure that there is an interaction between the two just as in human-computer interactions (Schnadelbach et al 2006).

In the creation or development of human-computer interfaces, the general design of the user interface is usually determined by the amount of effort that is taken by a user to input information into the computerized system. Therefore, various design principles are usually incorporated to ensure that the user interfaces are more user-friendly and have softer features that reduce any complex interactions with the computerized machines. These design principles include incorporating the needs of the user into the design of the user interface. This will involve establishing how many users will use the interface as well as what tasks they perform through the use of the interface (Kumar 2005).

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This principle ensures that the user interface will be designed for real and valid users instead of users who will not use the interface once it is developed. The other design principle will involve empirical measurement of the user interface design were on the real and valid users of the interface. Empirical measurement is performed to ensure that any problems with the user interface design have been identified and corrected and it also ensures that the usability needs of the users have been met based on the number of tasks that they will perform with the user interface. Empirical measurement also determines the amount of time that the user will take to complete their tasks as well as the number of errors that will occur while the tasks are being performed by the user (Kumar 2005).

Once the users of the interface have been identified, the iterative design principle will be applied to ensure the proper interface has been developed to meet the user’s needs. The iterative design principle will involve designing the user interface, testing the interface and analyzing the results of the test to ensure that the interface operates without any errors or discrepancies. The iterative design process is usually repetitive in nature to ensure that a more user-friendly interface has been designed and developed. The above principles apply in the development and design of adaptive architectural interfaces that will bridge the gap that exists between architecture and humans (Kumar 2005).

The creation of human user interfaces in adaptive architecture will involve considering a key property of developing good user interfaces in computation technology which is consistency. Human interfaces are usually designed to ensure that the expectations of the user are consistent in nature. Consistency further involves considering three important aspects the first of which involves presenting the controls of the interface in a consistent manner. This is necessary and important as it ensures users of the interface are able to find the controls they need to perform their tasks without any problem at all. For example, computer users usually find it difficult to use software programs that have commands available on the start menu, icons, separate keyboard buttons, and grouped functions or through right-clicking of the mouse. Such different options present a lot of inconsistency for the user who needs a consistent strategy to find what they want (Kumar 2005).

The second aspect that falls under consistency involves ensuring that various features function in a similar way. This concept is referred to as the principle of least astonishment which involves designing a user interface that can be applied in various functions and programs. The third aspect involves developing user interface versions that do not incorporate a lot of changes. Consistency when designing user interfaces involves ensuring that the design does not have many changes to the version. Consistency requires that changes to any of the computerized systems should be minimized and maintained. The changes should therefore be minimal instead of too drastic to ensure that the users do not experience any problems with the user interface as was the case with the drastic change of the Microsoft Office 2003 toolbar to a ribbon toolbar in the Office 2007 version. The redesign caused a lot of mixed reactions amongst Microsoft users as it forced them to relearn the various features that came with the 2007 version. Such a reaction demonstrated how the consistency was important in designing easy and simple user interfaces (Bastide et al 2007).

Creating a user experience involves various aspects which have to be considered some of which include talent were identifying the right people with the right talent skills and knowledge to develop the right user interfaces as well as visual designs to ensure that the user experience is positive in nature. Focus involves concentrating on a particular aspect of the user interface design to ensure that the user interface achieves an optimal result. Focus involves identifying the users that exist in particular markets and developing interfaces for these markets. User intimacy which is another aspect of user experience involves determining what is important to these users as well as their markets. Once user intimacy is determined the interface is researched on, designed and tested after which the user interface is aligned to ensure that interface is in line with user expectations (Bastide et al 2005).

The user experience is generally the main key determinant that will be used to assess whether a user interface has been accepted by users. Designers of user interfaces have to ensure that they incorporate the above aspects to ensure that the interfaces meet the user’s expectations as well as improve their experiences. The two components of user interfaces include vision and hearing where vision involves designing a user interface that incorporates the use of images and texts to disseminate important information to the user. Hearing involves the use of sound and audio features to relay output information to the user. Technological innovations have improved the human-computer interactions and user interfaces that exist in the world today (Bastide et al 2005).

When developing human-computer interfaces that are easy and simple to use, the aspect of usability is the most important concept that is usually considered when developing a human-computer interface. Usability is the degree to which the design of the interface is able to consider the cognitive abilities of the human user as well as their psychology and physiology. Usability ensures that these aspects are assessed when designing the user interface to ensure that it is effective and efficient. Usability takes into account the design principles of user interfaces by defining how a product can be used for its designed purpose as well as determining whether it has met its design requirements (Kumar 2005).

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As the aspect of usability is important in the creation of user interfaces, adaptability is an important concept in adaptive architecture where adaptability ensures that the building or piece of architecture is able to adapt to the changing environment as well as the changing structure of the building. Adaptability ensures that the human interface is developed in a way that will ensure the changing needs and behavior of the user have been incorporated into the design of the building. Adaptability in adaptive architecture ensures that the human interface has adaptability algorithms that will change according to the expectations and structures of the design. For example, the most common adaptive architecture program used by architectural designers C++ has a program or partition that incorporates the use of an adaptability algorithm (Schnadelbach et al 2006).

Advances in technology have ensured that architecture can be able to adapt according to the environment and its inhabitants based on their behaviors and perceptions. These advances in technological innovations have ensured that human interfaces can be developed to ensure the various features of architectural designs can be modified and developed to suit the needs of the building’s inhabitants. Technologies now exist for controlling the temperature of the building as well as for adjusting the amount of lighting to suit the inhabitant’s needs. The human-computer interaction community has increased its focus on the development of user interface technology that can be used to provide a suitable interaction between such home automation technologies. Designers of user interfaces are now developing interface technology that can be used for both the interior and exterior architectural designs of buildings to make them more interactive and usable as communication media (Schnadelbach et al 2006).

Architects together with user interface designers are now designing and developing buildings that are dynamic in nature and that can be able to change shape and orientation based on the needs/desires of the user. Aspects of human-computer interactions such as media reality and real-time communication have made it possible for such dynamic buildings to be developed to react to electronic spaces by bringing together various environments. Technological innovations such as biometric data sensors have allowed for the development of building structures that have an adaptive architecture that can be used to control the physiological data collected from the inhabitants of the building as well as the building’s environment. Such technology will ensure that surface property that exists in both the physical and virtual space has been incorporated in the architectural design of the building (Schnadelbach et al 2006).


Bastide, R., Palangue, P. & Roth, J., (2005) Engineering human-computer interaction and interactive systems. Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag

Kumar, R.R., (2005) Human-computer interaction. New Delhi: Firewall Media- Laxmi Publications

Schnadelbach, H., Penn, A., Steadman, P., Benford, S., Koleva, B., and Rodden, T., (2006) Moving office: inhabiting a dynamic building. Computer Supported Cooperative work 2006 Proceedings. Banff, Canada: ACM Press

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