Prosthetic Dwelling


Typology: Illustration

Year: 2018

Stage: Competition

Team: Adrian Aguirre


“In computer circles […] exist three general classes of models; each contains very particular biases toward how we observe […] the world and how we represent it, the aggregate, essence and reality.”[1] for Nicolas Negroponte, the aggregate was a decomposition of events, the essence was an abstraction of the event, and the reality was the city event as model; in prosthetic dwelling, these three categories are taken in a different direction; the core, the collection and the reality, where the core is the event base (individual), the collection is the general event and the reality is the floating city/island or prosthetic dwelling.

What would change in architecture if the conditions of the human transcend into a posthuman era of immaterialism? Prosthetic dwelling is an interrogation from the metaphorical and material possibilities of the prosthesis as an addition process and not as an artefact or device for replacing a missing organ or body part, in other words, subjectivity not objectivity. The prosthetic is a method to avoid the disappearance of materialism, or in extreme cases to replace a material amputation; the prosthetic is also a description of the unfixed relation between soft architectural machines and the human, a method to understand their immediacy and to provide a complementary meaning to the event as a central and transformational configuration, an intangible but significant aspect of space. “The prosthetic is an integral or interconstitutive part of the human”[2], is an augmentation and transference of a foreign entity into a natural scene based on the relation between organisms and machines; the prosthetic is a dynamic extension of architectural territories and an interface between bodies and machines as a system.

There is a dynamic connection and an oppositional tension between body and machine, this connection increases the direction of program from the materiality to the transitory image or in some cases, the ephemeral.

The prosthetic increases the sense of the body, breaking the trend of intangible artifacts as simple rebuilders of the human flaws or failures, giving to the prosthetic idea a sense of reality and the role of a crucial factor, a component that transfers agency from the object to the body and vice versa, creating a new visibility of the event. “To see the nature in terms of events[…] classical objects, states, and relations are in fact incompatible with a reality[…] in perpetual emergence”[3], therefore it is important to take the event as a modifier method, autonomous, constantly adapting to the environment, unpredictable and finally suitable for the creation of a fundamental meaning for a dynamic spatiality based on the behavior of the human and the prosthetic, “at the heart of the modern discourse of prosthesis is the realization that the joining together of bodies and machines is not just a manufacturing process or even just an art and craft”[4], the prosthesis, in this case, becomes the stimulus and a provocation to provide context to the event, which according to Nicholas Negroponte, in terms of behaviour, context is the function of a personal experience, and gives meaning to the event, “I do not believe that there are truths in architecture, all principles are qualified by context” [5], context provides coherence and uniformity.

An architectonical prosthesis is an augmentation of the spatiality, from the visual, to the psychological and finally to the material, where the supplement reconfigures a new visibility through an external device or idea. A new visibility is based on a new reality, by extending the sense of physical space; the consequences of this prosthetic process lead us to a post-human era of materialism (materialism in terms of reality is the unique generator of architectonical spaces), nor immaterialism, neither virtualism, where the visible effects of the event create a symbiosis between human and soft architectural machines.

Soft architectural machines are those devices that can be responsive to external stimulus, transformations and can evolve through time, not in a human sensitive intelligent condition but rather as a reactive behavior to external or internal shifting environments (humans, as a collective), understanding the challenges of the different and multiple circumstances of the environment (human, as a unit).

To understand the relation of soft architectural machines and organisms, it is necessary to divide this association in different connectivity scales due to the complexity of the interactions between them.

The first condition is the core, that is related to the individual unit (personal space) and explains the intimate interconnection in a simple scale and the second condition is the collection that is related to the collective or joint unit and explains common behaviour in terms of crowds. Finally, due to the failure of the prosthetic as a general device, that cannot be applied as a multi – task component, the reality will create a positional representation of these two entities (the core and the collection) in the contemporary city, using the actual dynamic conditions that inform us, such as redundancy and nonlinear systems as a model to generate a prosthetic method.


Inspired by notable architectural visions of Etienne-Louis Boullée, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Lebbeus Woods and Moon Hoon, prosthetic dwelling illustrates a utopian existence of a rudimentary and decentralized architectural microcosms where a continuous circulatory system stablishes order through a series of endless stairs connecting spaces, volumes and experiences.

The origins of prosthetic dwelling are based on a vision of a utopian nomadic micronation, as a method and instrument to understand immediacy between architectural systems where the event of proximity creates a dynamic extension of architectural territories, an ephemeral expansion of space, without the extension of physical space. A reality leading to a post-human era of radical materialisation in architectural spaces.



Kwinter, Sanford. 2002. Architecture of time. Toward a theory of the event in modernist culture. The MIT Press.

Negroponte, Nicolas. 1975. Soft architecture machines. MIT Press

Smith, Marquard. 2007. Prosthetic impulse: from a posthuman present to a biocultural future. MIT Press

[1] Negroponte, Nicolas. 1975. Soft architecture machines. MIT Press. P. 43

[2] Smith, Marquard. 2007. Prosthetic impulse: from a posthuman present to a biocultural future, MIT Press. P. 7

[3] Kwinter, Sanford. 2002. Architecture of time. Towards a theory of the event in modernist culture. MIT Press. P. 49

[4] Smith, Marquard. 2007. Prosthetic impulse: from a posthuman present to a biocultural future. MIT Press. P. 49

[5] Negroponte, Nicolas. 1975. Soft architecture machines. MIT Press P. 33

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