Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Relational Architecture Reading


  • Architecture is and the human body are linked by intention. Architecture and buildings are built for the human body
  • The city itself can be seen as a body
  • Architecture is built to be experienced by human bodies.
  • But Hemmer’s work challenges the notion that buildings and technology dictate how the body should act and goes against the idea of the panopticon.
  • “But if architecture is understood more widely as as comprising the architecture of  of social relations, of surveillance , of fleeting exceptions, then count me in.”
  • Relational architecture is essentially interactive architecture. Architecture that reacts in relation to the human body through the use of technological interventions
  • Hemmer does this by superimposing audio visual elements that are interactive on architectural landscapes.

Thoughts on the Reading

  • The reading was very interesting especially in relation to the readings we had from last week. Last week we saw the architectural philosophies of Peter Zumthor and then we so the Manifesto of Siah Armajani. Both of which made us see architecture as something more or less permanent and unshakable and thus should be designed with the utmost care. But here Hemmer shows us that a space and architecture could be constantly changed, enhanced and tuned through the use of technology.
  • Furthermore Hemmer challenges the idea that we are constantly being controlled through invisible powers. And these invisible powers takes the form of surveillance and architectural design for the purpose of social engineering.
  • Hemmer here gives back power to the people instead by using technology (the very same technology that is being used to take power away from the people) and making it interactive. Now the people can change the the space and architecture in their own image.
  • On top of that, the social aspect of Hemmer’s works also makes them a lot more powerful and kinder. Quite a few of his work like “Level of Confidence” reminds people of social injustice. In this case it is the Mexican Massacre. Or works like “Voice Tunnel” and “Voz Alta” encourages people to speak and gives a voice to the people.
  • Some of his works also celebrate human individuality. Like “Pulse Room”. And works like these empowers the individual by reminding them that they are unique. (Also I love “kind” works like these)
  • And lastly some of his works like “People on People” brings the community together as it encourages people to not only interact with the artwork, but with each other and most importantly play. This not only gives back the space to the people but the community too. (in the sense that they are closer together now).

Thoughts on some Artworks

“Vicious Circular Breathing”

  • Okay this artwork is cool visually and the sound of paper bags expanding and contracting sounds really really nice. However this artwork is absolutely disgusting (hygiene wise) and never in a million years would I wanna enter a room to breathe in the breaths of people before me. What if someone coughs? or god forbid have bad breathe?


“Zero Noon”

Hemmer describes this work as one of his more smaller works. But I feel like it is powerful. It reminds us of the happenings of the world, things that we overlook by connecting them with time. Something that we go through with everyday. In that way, he pops us out of the bubble that we call our own universe.


  • Can we make architecture that is interactive and responsive to the human body without using technology? Like how we are making an interactive space using only analogue means.
  • In Singapore’s context, how can we give a powerful unfiltered voice to the people. Kinda reminds me of the pink dot light up this year. Can we do something like that for our interactive art?

Extra Reference

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