||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (August 2009)|
Interactive Architecture signifies a field of architecture in which objects and space have the ability to meet changing needs with respect to evolving individual, social, and environmental demands. It is also termed Responsive architecture.
The convergence of embedded computation and kinetics in architectural form with the intention to involve human and environmental responses creates an architecture that could be termed interactive or responsive, but can also be cybernetic. As Usman Haque puts it, such systems must utilize a definition of interaction as circular, or they are merely “reacting” and not “interacting”.
An interactive system is a “multiple-loop” system in which one enters into a “conversation”: a continual and constructive information exchange. As people interact with architecture, they should not be thought of as “users” but instead as “participants”. Marcos Novak uses the term transactive intelligence, to define architectural intelligence that not only interacts, but that transacts and transforms both the user and itself. If architecture is to continue to respond to the affordances of technological innovation that surround it as a profession, then we may no longer ask “What is that building?”, or “How was it made?”, but rather, “What does that building do?”
Until recently, aside from the more visionary theorists mentioned above, the notion of intelligence in the context of interactive environments revolved around a central control system for everything; these systems were called “smart environments.” In the 1980s and 1990s, an explosion of development began to take place within the field of computer science. Out of this, fields such as “intelligent environments” (IE) were formed to study spaces with embedded computation and communication technologies, creating spaces that bring computation into the physical world. Intelligent environments are defined as spaces in which computation is seamlessly used to enhance ordinary activity. Michael Mozer, who led the development of the pioneering Adaptive House in the late 1990s speaks of the “intelligence” of the home as that which arises from the home’s ability to predict the behavior and needs of the inhabitants by having observed them over a period of time. Instead of being programmed to perform certain actions, the house essentially programmed itself by monitoring the environment and sensing actions performed by the inhabitants, observing the occupancy and behavior patterns of the inhabitants, and learning to predict future states of the house. Another approach was that of MIT’s Intelligent Room project directed by Michael Coen which was created to experiment with different forms of natural, multimodal human-computer interaction (HCI) by embedding computational smarts into everything with which the users come in contact. The goal was to allow computers to participate in activities that have never previously involved computation and to allow people to interact with computational systems the way they would with other people. The developments in IE were essentially fueled by the concept of “ubiquitous computing” (a term coined in 1988 by Mark Weiser as a post-desktop model of human-computer interaction).
Ubiquitous computing can be defined as computation thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities, and is often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, and design. In ubiquitous computing, a user engages many computational devices and systems simultaneously in the course of ordinary activities, and may not necessarily even be aware that they are doing so. Weiser described this as “the age of calm technology, when technology recedes into the background of our lives.”
From the intersection between this computer science and architecture grew the seminal work of the MIT Architecture Machine Group which developed a number of seminal projects during the 1970s and 80’s in media and interface design and even computationally enhanced environments.
Corporate and Cultural Interest 
Corporate and cultural interests also played important market-driven roles in the development of interactive architecture. These were extremely important as they directly involved the users out in the real world, but, however, they were not integrated with the earlier theoretical architectural concepts of interactivity. In the 1950s, widespread developments were taking place in environmental control systems within buildings as a direct derivative of the introduction of sensors with remote signaling allowing for a central control room. The invention of “remote control” also came along at this time, enabling the user to assume a larger role as an operator of objects in space. The 1960s saw an evolution of system control and management where the control room turned into a hardwired control panel with the capacity to record information and alert users of problematic parameters. Mahesh Senegal points out two diametrically opposed perspectives that prevailed at this time: that of a life defined by pragmatic convenience, and that of a life controlled by the machine whereby the users become dependent upon their environments. While both perspectives still survive today to some extent, the modern world has come to embrace every new technology with the promise (perhaps illusionary) of convenience, but for the most part, without the fear.
The 1970s signaled a turn towards a promise of environmental efficiency, when architects sought to justify technology that could improve building performance and consequently save money. Energy management systems were introduced as well as microprocessors but, for the most part, the architecture world had yet to embrace the promises of such technologies from an interactive standpoint.
The 1980s, however, perhaps stirred by the introduction of the personal computer, heralded a shift in user thinking or outlook whereby the connotations of “enslavement” began to be replaced by “empowerment”. The PC became the interface that replaced the central console control, distributed direct digital control replaced conventional control systems, and communication could be programmed to take place on local area networks. Such developments also clarified the problems of integration, whereby many non-communicative independent protocols hit the market for individual products at the same time. A new need consequently arose to standardize the methods by which different types of hardware could communicate with one another; this, however, was not satisfied, as the issues surrounding integration are proprietary and economically very valuable. What happened then is that many non-communicative independent protocols hit the market for individual products at the same time.
Prototypical Projects 
Eventually architectural academia began to assemble comprehensive prototypical projects based on real-world market-driven developments. Numerous academic “smart home” and “smart workplace” projects were initiated in the 1990s that relied heavily on available technological progress. It was a time when wireless networks, embedded computation, and sensor effectors became both technologically and economically feasible to implement. This feasibility fueled experimentation with many of the ideas of the early visionary architects and theoreticians outlined above that were stifled by the technological and economic hurdles of their day. It was at this time that architects began to re-investigate the economics of obtaining cheap computational hardware and increased aptitude to integrate computational intelligence into architecture.
The interactive architecture workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture (University College, London) was initiated in the early 1990s as a pioneering forum for actual architectural pursuits under the guidance of Stephen Gage. Also, the use of the Internet undoubtedly played a major role in both the technological and intellectual dissemination responsible for progress in the field. Since the 1990s, numerous architecture schools have expanded their programs to incorporate interactive design.
Interactive Architecture begins with an overview of the theoretical work of a number of people working in cybernetics in the early 1960s who laid much of the groundwork in interactive architecture. These ideas were picked up at the time by a few architects who solidly translated them into the arena of architecture; although the computational means were not quite evolved to the extent that proliferation of these ideas could really take a strong foothold.
The computational world did begin to evolve quite rapidly however, tangentially skirting the field of architecture in a much more pragmatic and market-driven fashion. Cultural and corporate interests played major roles in influencing interactive architecture through the development of numerous market-driven products and systems that directly involved users in the real world. In the 1990s, interactive architecture began to take a foothold as ideas began to be both technologically and economically feasible. It was also at this time that the long history of kinetics in architecture began to be reexamined under the premise that performance could be optimized if it could use computational information and processing to control physical adaption in new ways to respond to contemporary culture.
More recent developments have begun to signal a shift from a mechanical paradigm of adaptation to a biological paradigm. The prevalence of the organic paradigm is beginning to alter the conceptual model that is applied in order to comprehend the environment and, consequently, design in the environment. Organic theory emerges from nature, and possesses evolutionary patterns that produce forms of growth and strategies of behavior, optimizing each particular pattern to the contextual situation. Consequently, the organic paradigm of kinetic adaptation has driven a profound set of developments in materials, autonomous robotics, biomimetics and evolutionary systems whereby the adaptation becomes much more holistic, and operates on a very small scale.
Finally an account of the development of the use of responsive systems and their history in respect to recent architectural theory can be found in Tristan d'Estree Sterk's recent opening keynote address (ACADIA 2009) entitled "Thoughts for Gen X— Speculating about the Rise of Continuous Measurement in Architecture" 
Gordon Pask and Other Cyberneticians 
In the 1960s, Gordon Pask and other cyberneticians made advancements toward understanding and identifying the field of interactive architecture by formulating their theories on the topic. Pask, who later collaborated with a number of architects in the 70s and 80s, developed a “Conversation Theory” which served as the basis of much of the architectural development in interactive architecture at the time. Rather than an environment that strictly interprets people's desires, he says, an environment should allow users to take a bottom-up role in configuring their environment in a malleable way without specific goals. Usman Haque points out that such early theoretical foundations, in particular Pask’s (Pask 1960), had difficulties in establishing much of a foothold; this was due to the lack of marketing potential in his physical proof-of-concept models. He makes the case that the realm of such proof-of-concept prototypes was essentially driven out by the development of the digital computer. By the mid-1960s, in fact, funding was waning for bottom-up approaches to AI and cybernetics such as neural nets, evolutionary programming, cybernetics, biological computation, bionics, and so forth. Most research in these areas had to adapt to what could be implemented digitally in order to be funded.
Around the same time, the architect William Brody published a rather visionary article in 1967 which proposed that we teach our environments first complex, then self-organizing, intelligence that would eventually become evolutionary. Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab, also speaks of similar ideas in his seminal book called The Architecture Machine, although the applications he described were more concerned with digital media and design processes than the physical built environment. Charles Eastman further developed the model of Adaptive-Conditional Architecture in 1972 by expanding upon the earlier ideas explored in cybernetics by Pask and Norbert Weiner, in which architects interpreted spaces and users (participants) as complete feedback systems. Eastman proposed that feedback be used to control an architecture that self-adjusts to fit the needs of users. These cybernetic ideas essentially describe such responsive actions of users and architecture as “dynamic stability” which can be visualized with the often-cited analogy of a boat at sea constantly manipulating its rudder against the variable environmental conditions of wind and current to maintain a straight course. However, it is important to note that Eastman’s model was essentially that of a machine-led approach. Andrew Rabeneck made a very pragmatic interpretation in 1969 by proposing the use of cybernetic technologies to produce an adaptive architecture that would increase the useful lifespan of a building through adaptation. Tristan d’Estrée Sterk proposes a hybridized approach of combining the two. This notion of hybridization has prevailed even today in modern robotics, whereby simple automated feedback is coupled with higher-level deliberative processing.
Cedric Price 
Cedric Price was perhaps the most influential of the early architects to adopt the early theoretical work in cybernetics and extend it to an architectural concept of “anticipatory architecture” Many of his un-built projects such as the Fun Palace in 1961 influenced an architecture of process that was indeterminate, flexible and responsive to the changing needs of users and their times. His Generator project was an important “early investigation into artificially intelligent architecture that was designed with no specific program, but only a desired end-effect, in mind.” In order for something to be considered “intelligent” in this context, it must be able to learn about its world and develop its own ability to interact with it. John Frazer, who was a systems consultant on the project, extended Price’s ideas, in positing that architecture should be a “living, evolving thing”. This theory is summarized in the book An Evolutionary Architecture and shows examples from the work of nearly 30 years with students and collaborations with Pask himself. These projects include many built constructions and prototypes from work at the Architectural Association in London. The work relies heavily on biological and scientific analogies and the sciences of cybernetics, complexity, and chaos. Frazer’s work is valuable as it extends beyond the design process to the built works themselves. He outlines eight aspects of evolution which all produce change at a variety of scales, and the basis of all such conditions is information. He makes a strong environmental case for such ideas without actually advocating the replication of natural ecosystems. He states: “Natural ecosystems have complex biological structures: they recycle their materials, permit change and adaptation, and make efficient use of ambient energy.” At that time, these ideas were perhaps an interesting counterpoint to static architecture; now, however, they have become keywords for architectural environmental responsibility.
Other paradigms 
Responsive Architecture 
Responsive architecture is an evolving field of architectural practice and research that predates the field of interactive architecture by a number of years.
Responsive architectures distinguish themselves by using responsive concepts to change the qualities of architectural form and space - rather than being a series of patched intelligent systems.
Responsive architectures are those that measure real environmental conditions in order to produce buildings that change their shape, form and character in response to real environmental conditions. The goal of this work is to produce buildings and or building components that improve the energy performance of a building in realtime while also ensuring that this work reflects the technological condition of our time.
Recently Tristan d'Estree Sterk of The Bureau For Responsive Architecture and Robert Skelton of UCSD in San Diego have been working on actuated tensegrity, experimenting with pneumatically controlled rods and wires which change the shape of a building in response to sensors both outside and inside the structure. Their goal is to limit and reduce the impact of buildings on natural environments.
Kinetics in Architecture 
It is relevant to note that, in the late 1990s, a reexamination of the long history of kinetics in architecture occurred under the premise that performance could be optimized if it could use this newfound computational information and processing to physically adapt. Architecture began to revisit traditional kinetic aesthetics with new technological innovations, spurred on by Robert Kronnenberg, with a series of exhibitions and conferences on transportable environments. The traditional problems of motion, stasis, and order were challenged, redefined, and transformed by new possibilities and strategies opened up through technological innovation: Technologies and new approaches to mobility and transportation relating to nomadic culture, in particular, served as these technological innovations. The driving force is in the technologically influenced and changing patterns of human interaction with the built environment. Today’s intensification of social and urban change, coupled with the responsibility of issues of sustainability, amplifies the demand for interactive architectural solutions. In the context of architectural need, the attribute of being able to adapt to changing needs is paramount in contemporary society. Moreover, there is capacity to develop a new form of architectural composition based on the realist concept of 'movement itself'. To this end a recent book by Jules Moloney 'State Change' examines precedent from the kinetic arts to develop a morphology of kinetic form.
The Organic Paradigm and Nanotechnology 
These technologically driven human behavioral patterns are beginning to facilitate a paradigmatic shift from the mechanical to the biological from a standpoint of adaptation. Change in the mechanical world is cyclical, but there is no development, as the factors are continually repeated with set outcomes; the organic paradigm is developmental and reciprocal—it emulates life. Organic theory emerges from nature, an environment that possesses evolutionary patterns that produce forms of growth and strategies of behavior, optimizing each particular pattern to the contextual situation.
The prevalence of the organic paradigm is beginning to alter the conceptual model that we apply in order to comprehend our environment and, consequently, design in our environment. As a result, the organic paradigm of kinetic adaptation has driven a profound set of developments in both robotics and new materials whereby the adaptation becomes much more holistic, and operates on a very small internal scale. Technology has provided recent unprecedented insight into the workings of microscopic natural mechanisms and advanced manufacturing of high-quality kinetic parts with new materials such as fabrics, ceramics, polymers and gels, fabrics, shape-memory alloy compounds, and composites. In the same vein, we cannot ignore those structures and systems being explored at even smaller scales, such as the nano. Nanocomposite materials are being developed that are self-sensing and self-actuating to improve strength, reliability, and performance. The combination of new materials and robotics at a very small scale opens up a fascinating area that is relevant to interactive architecture in bio-nanotechnology. This area is the integration of biological functions and nanoscale precision.
Future Innovations 
Technology transfer from similarly integrated interactive developments in other fields will continue to predicate, impact and evolve with interactive design. Such transfer is particularly clear with respect to the innovations in aerospace design, automotive design, interface design, and digital media. Interestingly, the forecast of development can be retrospectively viewed in industries other than architecture: “nearly 80 percent of all innovations within automobiles are derivatives of electronic systems”. Until recently, almost all innovations were related to manufacturing and fabrication. The “drive-by-wire” technologies in the automotive industry replaced the traditional mechanical and hydraulic control systems with electronic control systems using electromechanical actuators and human-machine interfaces. This technology was predicated on fly-by-wire technology in the aircraft industry. Both are derivatives of the application of embedded computation which is now quickly taking center stage with respect to the built architectural environment. Will we soon see the age of “live-by-wire” and “work-by-wire” technologies? Recent developments in the area of interface design will also eventually play out in architectural environments. A boom in sensor innovation and manufacturing has signaled the availability of previously unimaginable means for gathering data and information. Also of interest is the work of ORAMBRA who have been pioneering many structural and control technologies for responsive buildings 
The Future of Interactive Design 
Interactive architecture can be seen as an emerging multidisciplinary genre assigning new technologies a creative role that negotiates future identities for architecture relying not solely on a mechanical paradigm, but one that is supernatural and therefore not predetermined in behaviour. Most of the first interactive architectural projects are based on mechanical principles of adaptation. A number of developments drawing on a range of technological and material means are beginning to adopt biologically inspired principles which lead to projects operates like organisms, analogous with the underlying design and processes of nature. A biological paradigm of interactive architecture requires not just pragmatic and performance based technological understandings, but a comprehension of aesthetic, conceptual and philosophical issues relating to humans and the global environment. Further, it repositions the role of the architect and designer as a catalyst of projects which evolve. The organic paradigm also reinterprets the scale at which architects and designers work and view the world, and also the timescales at which they customarily work. Interestingly, the issue of scale is inherently tied to manufacturing and fabrication. While recent innovations have been derived through electronics, we are beginning to see an accompanying upsurge of innovation in manufacturing and fabrication techniques appropriated from other industries and redeployed. Many early examples of interactive architecture have been based on rapid developments in digital media and its growing availability in terms of cost, but also on the creative reuse of existing electronic products. Their creativity largely depends on custom-designed software, rather than off-the-shelf products. The impact of new aspects of ubiquitous digital technologies, such as voice recognition, as with all innovations in this field, is exploited commercially as social media, but is also likely to be utilised by interactive practitioners.
See also 
- Haque, Usman. “Architecture, Interactions, Systems.” AU : Arquitetura & Urbanismo 149 (August 2006)
- Novak, Marcos, interview by Alessandro Ludovico. Neural, Spring 2001. http://www.neural.it/english/marcosnovak.htm
- Fox, Michael and Miles Kemp Interactive Architecture, August 2009. http://www.interactive-architecture.com
- Mozer, M. C. “Lessons from an adaptive house.” In Smart environments: Technologies, protocols, and applications, edited by D. Cook and R. Das, 273–294. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2005
- Mozer, M. C. “An intelligent environment must be adaptive.” IEE Intelligent Systems and their Applications 14, no. 2 (1999): 11–13
- Coen, Michael. “Design Principles for Intelligent Environments.” Proceedings of the Fifteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Madison, WI, 1998
- Weiser, Mark and John Seely Brown. Designing Calm Technology Xerox PARC December 21, 1995. 19 Kolokotsa, D., T. Nikolaou, et al. “Intelligent Buildings Handbook.” http://www.ibuilding.gr/ handbook
- Senagala, Mahesh and Chris Nakamura, Going Past the Golem: The Emergence of Smart Architecture, Published in the Proceedings of the ACA DIA International Conference, Louisville, KY, 2006
- Brown, Gary. “Introduction.” In Transportable Environments 2, edited by Robert Kronenburg, Joseph Lim and Wong Yunn Chii. London: Spon Press, 2002
- Continuous Measurement in Architecture from ORAMBRA (Retrieved 26 January 2010).
- Pask, G. “Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics.” Architectural Design, September 1969, 494–496
- Dreyfus, H. L., and Stuart E. Dreyfus. “Making a mind versus modeling the brain: artificial intelligence at a branchpoint.” Daedalus (1988): 15–43
- Brodey, Warren. “The design of intelligent environments: Soft architecture.” Landscape, Autumn 1967, 8–12
- Negroponte, Nicholas. The Architecture Machine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1973
- Eastman, C. “Adaptive-Conditional Architecture.” In Design Participation, Proceedings of the Design Research Society’s Conference Manchester, September 1971, Ed. N. Cross, pp. 51–57. London: Academy Editions, 1972
- Rabeneck, A. “Cybermation: A Useful Dream.” Architectural Design, September 1969, 497–500
- Sterk, Tristan d’Estree. “Responsive Architecture: User-centred Interactions within the Hybridized Model of Control, Game Set and Match II.” Conference Proceedings of the Faculty Of Architecture, Delft University Of Technology, the Netherlands, March 29–April 1, 2006
- Coste-Maniè, E., and Simmons, “Architecture, The Backbone Of Robotic Systems.” Proceedings of the 2000 IEE International Conference on Robotics & Automation, San Francisco, CA, 2000
- Riley, Terence, ed. The Changing of the Avant- Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002
- Frazer, J. An Evolutionary Architecture, London: Architectural Association Publications, Themes VII, John Frazer and the Architectural Association, 1995
- The Office for Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau For Responsive Architecture (ORAMBRA)
- Robert Skelton. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- Shape-shifting Structures Adapt to Environment, David R. Butcher, ThomasNet, September 13, 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
- Fox, Michael. “Novel Affordances of Computation to the Design Process of Kinetic Structures.,” MS thesis, MIT, 1996
- Fox, Michael and Hu, Cahterine. Starting From The Micro: A Pedagogical Approach to Designing Interactive Architecture. Bangkok Thanilad: Proceedings to CADRIA, 2006
- Leen, G., and D. Heffernen. “Vehicles without Wires.” Computing and Control Volume: 12, Issue: 5 (2001): 205–21
- Senagala, Mahesh. “Kinetic and Responsive: A Complex-adaptive Approach to Smart Architecture.” Paper presented at the SIGRADI International Conference, Lima, Peru, 2005
- Beesley, Philip; Hirosue, Sachiko; Ruxton, Jim; Trankle, Marion; Turner, Camille: Responsive Architectures: Subtle Technologies, Riverside Architectural Press, 2006, 239 p., ISBN 0-9780978-0-7
- Bullivant, Lucy, 'Responsive Environments: architecture, art and design', V&A Contemporary, 2006. London:Victoria and Albert Museum. A detailed analysis of the emergence of responsive environments as a multidisciplinary phenomenon, nurtured by museums, arts agencies and resulting from self-initiated activities by practitioners working in different cultural contexts. ISBN 1-85177-481-5
- Bullivant, Lucy, 'Interactive Design Environments'. London: AD/John Wiley & Sons, 2007. The follow-up to '4dspace', '4dsocial' is similarly a group of essays by different authors. It accents the creative role of museums in incubating new practices, terminology in this field, and the impact of interactive media installations in public spaces with a social message. ISBN 978-0-470-31911-6
- Bullivant, Lucy, '4dspace: Interactive Design Environments'. London: AD/John Wiley & Sons, 2005. An in-depth, multi-author investigation of the factors leading to and shaping the evolution of this hybrid field, featuring international practitioners. ISBN 0-470-09092-8
- Fox, Michael and Kemp, Miles, Interactive Architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009. An in-depth explanation of interactive architecture, its history, related fields, past and present prototypical projects, theories, and its potential future. Interactive Architecture .
- Moloney, Jules, Designing Kinetics For Architectural Facades: STATE CHANGE, Routledge, 2011. Critique of theory and practice in architecture is combined with ideas from kinetic art to develop a theoretical basis for design. 
- Sterk, Loveridge, Pancoast "Building A Better Tomorrow" Proceedings of the 29th annual conference of the Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9842705-0-7
Specialist blogs 
A few blogs now document the field, including:
- Interactive Architecture, by Ruairi Glynn from Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London. This blog "explores emerging practices within architecture that aim to merge digital technologies & virtual spaces with tangible and physical spatial experiences."
- Spatial Robots, by Miles Kemp, Variate Labs and Series Design/Build. This blog is dedicated to cataloging, critiquing and promoting interactive spatial systems and emerging technology in architecture. This website showcases interfaces, media, websites, robots, nanotechnology, objects, materials and logic with emphasis placed on being interactive and spatial (3-D).
- Robotecture, by Michael Fox, Foxlin Inc.
- InteractiveArchitecture.org - Online Publication
- Réalisations.net - Design firm
- WIRED article on Responsive Architecture
- The Economist article on Intelligent and Responsive Buildings
- The Office of Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau for Responsive Architecture - ORAMBRA
- Hoberman Associates - Transformable Design
- DesignIntelligence article on Adaptive Structures
- Cinimod Studio
- Foxlin Inc.
- Usman Haque
- Jason Bruges Studio
- Random International
- Series Design/Build
- Studio Roosegaarde
- Variate Labs
- Hyperbody research group at TU Delft
- Philip Beesley studio
- Kerman Responsive Facade, CARBON Studio