The future of responsive surfaces in the liquid modernity
Katia Gasparini, Alessandro Premier

IUAV Venice University, Italy, University of Auckland, New Zealand

In the contemporary era architectural design evolved towards a new relationship with the urban space and the citizen. Now, architecture has become an interactive and responsive tool that communicate with the environment through its surface: a new skin that might be glossy, matt, transparent, translucent or coloured, responsive, smart or intelligent.
As Zygmunt Bauman said, we are currently living in a liquid modernity where the priority is the appearance, the external skin. This skin must be changeable, because in the liquid modernity we live in an ephemeral dimension where everything is useless and temporary. According to Bauman: “the liquid modernity is the belief that change is the only thing permanent and that uncertainty is the only certainty”.
At this time, as in every era, architecture reflects its cultural and technical environment, therefore, contemporary architectural tools are ephemeral, technological, digital, coloured, smart and temporary.
The architectural surface becomes a communicative and interactive mean that connects the building and the user, and becomes an urban interface.
Therefore, the outer surfaces of buildings are becoming increasingly complex and hi-tech. This means that managing and carrying out maintenance on them is becoming increasingly complicated. From a certain point of view the reliability of the entire system depends on the degree of sophistication of the chosen solution. Some elements (e.g. mechanical or electronic devices) that are integrated into these new responsive surfaces, arrived from sectors that are outside the traditional sphere of construction. These are sectors where research, experimentation and a large number of tests conducted on the components, produced results that provide better levels of reliability and ease of use than those of the construction industry. But are the levels of reliability and durability of these components the same when they are used in buildings’ construction? And does this technology require greater care and special maintenance schedules?
The paper will analyse and discuss the new role of responsive surfaces in the urban environment according to its perception, its impact, durability and effects of changing.