SPACE DUALITY - Virtual Reality in Interior Architecture
In 1970, the first virtual reality headset was born. It opened a previously completely unknown universe, offering its users limitless possibilities to explore, play, and create potential future worlds. For years, the first generation of virtual immersive spaces focused on the technical development of precise, copy-pasted replicas of existing physical environments. Fifty years later, Space Duality, a project developed between the Department of Interior Architecture at HEAD – Genève and the USM Foundation, questioned the alignment between virtual reality and known archetypes, prompting students to develop new grammars of virtual and physical spaces while engaging larger audiences that do not normally participate in architectural discussions.
The project explored the relationships between technology, the human body, and spatial displays to reinvent the promise of the object as an experience, idea, and performance in the 21st century. To a certain extent, much of the prosthetic thinking of the 20th century undertaken by authors like Marshall McLuhan was linked to the understanding of objects, technologies, and media as devices that extend the body in a functional way. Going beyond these paradigms enabled us to redefine classic typologies and associated performativities, but also to include items without a clear auxiliary function—allowing us to envision concepts like techno-hedonism and meta-emotion, where utensils fulfill unexplored emotional functions.
A group of twelve students developed the projects as part of the USM Design Grant program. A heterogeneous community formed by visitors and digital equipment was created to form a choreographic environment of constant interaction, where the architectural object was designed as a performative device, equipped for virtual and physical use to examine social conventions, visitors' behaviour, and associated desires.
Space Duality won the:
RED DOT Award, 2020
FRAME Innovation Award–People’s Choice, 2020