Introduction

The Interactive Environments minor offers an exciting five-month ride through interactive architecture: students learn new technologies at every scale, interact with inspiring guest speakers and take part in a visionary and challenging course-length project. Students will be full-time engaged in exploring the possibilities of multimodal, whole body interaction, working with new design methods, input devices, dynamic actuators, high-tech materials and rapid prototyping tools. Students apply their knowledge and skills in a real-life project, from the development of a concept to the creation of a full-scale experiential prototype.

The Science Centre (SC) of the TU Delft hosts the minor and gives the students access to its facilities for the duration of the master. Among these: a unique design studio, workshop and brainstorm room. In return the students expose their process and (intermediate) results to the public of the SC by means of verbal explanations, demonstrations and through exhibiting presentation material and intermediate prototypes.
The kickoff event for the minor is a visit to the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz Austria. The interactive art festival is organized in the beginning of September so in coincides with the start of the semester. The festival is the main European event on interactive media art with interactive installations, performances and events relevant to the minor. In addition, during the visit staff and students have the chance to get to know each other.

Course Structure

The course structure of the Interactive Environments Minor is built around a group project assignment to design for a real context and users. In various group compositions you will be designing, fabricating and building a fully operational complex spatial interactive installation. All courses within the minor are geared towards supporting this goal in a variety of ways. The design assignment includes the design of interaction scenarios, and the integration of its embedded computing technologies.

Students work in groups on a design assignment throughout the semester. The semester is split into three phases. First is the conceptualization phase including the learning of required skills to develop concepts for interactive environments, in the second phase the prototype will be built and in the final phase the prototype and it’s behavior will be evaluated and fine-tuned.
Students will employ a highly iterative design process in which design ideas are verified by making prototypes and testing these. In this way design ideas mature into a meaningful concept. Students will also be working with Computer Aided Manufacturing techniques eg. a file-to-factory design process where the final concept will be 3D-modeled parametrically, which will serve as the input for the production drawings for the CNC machines. In addition, to construct the final prototype the design will be made up of multiple components in which interactive systems and wiring should be integrated.

Course Description

Design strategies (3 ECTS)

The design strategies course is a lecture series that aims to identify theory, method or practice relevant to the minor design assignment. The course spans the entire semester. Topics span the fields of architecture, interaction design and affective computing. The lectures will provide references to reading material about the topics and students are expected to research the topic beyond the material presented in the lecture. Examples of topics are: Experience Design, Interactive Architecture, Introduction to Arduino, Positive Design, User Research, Roles of Prototypes. Assessment is based on two individual writing assignments.

Interaction studies (3 ECTS)

Interaction studies is a two week bootcamp into interaction design. Through a series of hands-on activities such as body movement exercises, enactment of product behaviour and examinations of existing interactive projects you will be engaged to design a first interactive object and present that. A central activity in this course is the visit to the Ars Electronica Festival (Linz Austria). Students work in teams of two.

Technical Studies (5 ECTS)

The technical studies course aims to introduce the required skills for making interactive environments, such as: working with embedded microcontrollers, electronics, programming, parametric modeling and affective computing. Students work in small groups on practical assignments that are introduced and elaborated with lectures. Students work in teams of two, assessment is based on the quality of the delivered work: an interactive prototype, a 3D model, etc.

Workshops (4 ECTS)

The course workshops is intended to apply the skills learned in Technical Studies to a concrete design assignment. Every year we aim to make this a useful exercise with a relevant outcome to the main design assignment in the Design and Prototyping Studio. Students work in teams of 5, ssessment of this course is a team grade.

Design and Prototyping Studio (15 ECTS)

The course Design and Prototyping Studio is the main design track in the minor. Students work in teams on the main design assignment. Assessment is based on the quality of the concept, quality of the prototype and presentation. The course runs during the full semester.