Sandpit: PATINA: Personal Architectonics Through INteractions with Artefacts

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol


We conceive of research spaces as holistic 'architectonic systems' rather than distinct physical, virtual or mental worlds. Building from McLuhan's conception that we become what we behold we propose that future research spaces will enrich the experiences of individual researchers and create new opportunities for sharing research and building communities. These research spaces will be graduated and granular; more or less material, abstract, private or public and transferable; and adaptable and responsive to the researcher and their context.Drawing on recent work exploring seams between physical and digital interaction, Patina will design interfaces and infrastructures that invest personal control over physical, virtual and imagined research spaces and means of transition between them. We will explore alternatives to the existing isolation of the researcher characteristic of Augmented Reality, and the displacement of the research artefact typical of the Internet of Things, instead providing opportunities to create and share spaces that emphasise the primacy of research material. We will achieve this aim by giving individual researchers the opportunity to design their private, institutional and public research spaces; determine the spatial characteristics of the thresholds between their physical, digital and imagined environments; and provide the means to capture, record, replay and share their research in intuitive ways.Patina will develop theory, techniques, prototypes and deployments that re-conceive research spaces as synthesised patterns defined by subtle interfaces that are enacted by our interactions. We will deliver: a) a theoretical and conceptual architectonic framework for research environments; b) a provenance-rich personalised research 'repository' of linked data sources; and c) prototype designs and deployments for personal devices that act as keys to unlock individual and shared research material. Our collective challenge will be to design, test and evaluate a framework and the technologies that will serve and support the transitions between different modalities of research space. These transitions will be evaluated through a series of iterative designs and deployments 'in the wild' that include the research 'home', learned institutions and fieldwork.

Planned Impact

We have identified three further stakeholder groups: 1) the 'citizen researcher'; 2) the commercial ICT & Built Environment sectors; and 3) Public and Policy Institutions. These reflect the diversity of our engagement and illustrate our ultimate ambition to transform future research practices and develop sustainable research tools and spaces. Our most critical audience for impact will be the 'citizen researcher'. Across the entire research spectrum we believe there is a clear need to enhance the primacy of material and embodied research and underpin its process, provenance, and debate and accessibility through the melding of physical and digital spaces. Our own project staff, students and deployment participants will act as ambassadors to introduce new ways of working that will seed a network around which the citizen researcher may emerge. Beyond this fundamental grass roots engagement, we anticipate impact through engagement with institutional and commercial stakeholders. In the commercial sector, we have already engaged the research laboratories of Microsoft and Nokia with whom our strategic and technical interests align. In the domain of public institutions and policy, impact on standards bodies such as W3C will be critical to our approach. We will also engage with a range of public and institutional bodies that support research processes in different ways. These include representatives and practitioners of educational research and learning space design (e.g. RIBA, AUDE, JISC, DEGW), heritage and museum practitioners (e.g. V&A, MLA, Bath Preservation Trust) and library and ICT professionals (e.g. British Library, CILIP SIGs). The citizen researcher represents a key force within a near-future economy that emphasises knowledge manipulation, interpretation, presentation and accountability. We expect that empowering individuals with control and access to shared research will prove a key competitive advantage in the UK's scientific and cultural economies. The ability to explore the provenance of research activity should also impact on the effectiveness of public policies, by providing trajectories of evidence to those who are motivated to propose movements away from the status quo. Importantly, we also expect that the creative impact of personal research technologies to go beyond improved use of information and the quality of the results, feeding innovations in process and method of knowledge work. Specifically, there are likely to be wider community benefits of increased engagement with research processes that currently happen 'invisibly' at the interface between refined information and real-world practices. The increased sense of cooperation from intersecting research paths grounded in real spaces of relevance will embody our holistic notion of the citizen - not just contributing to the global knowledge economy, but in turn feeding a local cohesion through an improved sense of community uniqueness and contribution. This shift will be gradual and dependent in turn on the accessibility of supporting technologies, but we expect the effects to propagate an order of magnitude more quickly than techniques such as the Internet of Things which require institutional or multinational standardisation of research objects. In our proposed future, the individual drives the take-up of research through their own social network, and does not need to wait for organisational structures to align to their visions. At the commercial level, we expect the supporting mechanisms and technologies for such work that Patina will innovate to themselves represent a major export to our competitor nations. Working alongside partner companies from the very inception of the project will feed partners' own commercialisation processes as well as providing in-kind support to the project. Indeed, our commercial partnerships and other potential IP exploitation routes offer potential to create a significant shift in markets within relatively short timescales


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Bennett P (2012) ChronoTape

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Knibbe J (2014) Quick and dirty

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Millard D (2013) Canyons, deltas and plains

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Thom E (2012) Holding onto the magic

Description This project explored the design of effective research spaces, using technologies to bridge between personal and institutional designs.
Exploitation Route There are numerous outputs from the project being taken forwards in new funding bids, publications and collaborations with industry. Our findings thus far are detailed in the project publications.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Our work has been used in a variety of research sectors, including museums, libraries and family history centres and archaeology sites.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural