Adaptive architecture and personal data

Lachlan Urquhart, H Schnädelbach, N Jäger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through sensors carried by people and sensors embedded in the environment, personal data is being processed to try to understand activity patterns and people's internal states in the context of human-building interaction. This data is used to actuate adaptive buildings to make them more comfortable, convenient, and accessible or information rich. In a series of envisioning workshops, we queried the future relationships between people, personal data and the built environment, when there are no technical limits to the availability of personal data to buildings. Our analysis of created designs and user experience fictions allows us to contribute a systematic exposition of the emerging design space for adaptive architecture that draws on personal data. This is being situated within the context of the new European information privacy legislation, the EU General Data Protection Regulation 2016. Drawing on the tension space analysis method, we conclude with the illustration of the tensions in the temporal, spatial, and inhabitation-related relationships of personal data and adaptive buildings, re-usable for the navigation of the emerging, complex issues by future designers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages31
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number2
Early online date31 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • personal data
  • adaptive architecture
  • GDPR
  • tension space

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