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Our new paradigm: Light, space, data

Celestial light and space travel have fascinated designers of buildings since early civilisation. Now they are transforming how we live and how we understand architecture and cities. This century’s networks of semiconductors, satellites, scanners and sensors convert light into unprecedented formats and contents of information.

A swarm of LED-lit drones flown by the Spaxels group at Ars Electronica in Linz (Martin Heislmair.)

Flows of satellite-networked data underpin today’s global environmental monitoring and simulation projects and are destined to inform our behaviours in physical, virtual and hybrid realities. With this new science and technology paradigm, architecture and cities are being reinvented as not merely clusters of static structures but energetic places that pulse.

The real dynamics of cities now also are being mapped in real-time and multiple dimensions. This is a massive revolution in the history of cartography, which was traditionally limited to two dimensional diagrams – first drawn on clay tablets, then printed on paper.