by Anna Rita Emili
The total house during and after coronavirus: the architecture of virtual place and more
We are aware that the phenomenon we are currently experiencing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic is producing radical implications in terms of environmental transformations, changes in the relationship between man and nature and social relationships. These major questions are leading us once again to think “big” and to formulate new theories, which inevitably involve all our spheres of knowledge. One of the topics that will continue to be linked to this long, exhausting struggle against Covid-19 is that of social distancing. This is the expression around which the phase or phases revolve, which have confined all, or nearly all of us within our own four walls.
A pandemic wipes out social and cultural categories and extends the principle of Physical geometric distancing to all of humanity without distinction. We are speaking of a space which expands in terms of linear metres and which, on the contrary, shrinks to within a telematic, virtual dimension.
We are speaking of a space which expands in terms of linear metres and which, on the contrary, shrinks to within a telematic, virtual dimension. With Covid-19 we now know what it means to work, read. communicate, take part in events, conferences, exhibitions, travel and carry out research within a single, infinite, fluid space. In terms of architecture and town planning, the virtual space corresponds to an annulment of the traditional, physical distances between living, work and recreation, which for Le Corbusier represented the functional and spatial categories established in the Athens Charter and which were part of the principles and rules to construct the future city. Similarly, virtual communication has seen the continual decrease in distance between public and private space, and the most appropriate place to contain different functions and spatial requirements is actually the home.
If all the above is true, as it is true to say that the virtual place is discovered within the home, and the latter is, in turn, considered to be the best place for experimenting, we wonder: how will our home space change in the near future?
First and foremost, we have been able to ascertain that the house has the potential to transform into a multi-functional space, a place where we live, work, carry out research, communicate with the world, into a place of recreation and entertainment, in a public, yet at the same time private area and, therefore, a total space, in which everything can be automated and where everything can be perfect: our bodies, objects and furnishings.
Unlike a traditional house, the total house constitutes a complex organism, in which spaces for cognitive experiments are added to private spaces, where individual experiences and those linked to communication can be acquired. We are speaking of an intimate, welcoming environment for every member of the family, equipped with large screens and sophisticated, technological equipment.
The total house will also consist of communal areas, which will have all the facilities for group perceptive-sensorial experiences and where it will be possible to see places, holograms, images, films, works of art and design objects. They will, therefore, be equipped with large screens and automation systems.
A disadvantage of these living conditions could be the reduction in the individual’s physical activities. Crossing a particular territory, which used to follow a temporal process as the individual moved from one place to another, would now take place standing immobile within one’s own four domestic walls. What would be lacking, would be the perceptive aspects and synaesthetic experiences acquired by physically exploring the different places in the world. To solve the former problem, we should specify that the total house may be equipped with a spa area with a gym, sauna and pools or mini swimming pools with hydromassage, whereas the answer to the latter comes from so-called augmented reality1. This mode enriches sensorial perception by electronically manipulated information, which would otherwise not be perceived by the five senses. Whereas the surrounding environment in virtual reality is simulated, augmented reality adds graphic elements and information to the real environment. If this is true, we can be anywhere extremely quickly.
In augmented reality, the individual continues to experience normal physical reality, but uses additional information, which can enable interaction and digital manipulation2.
Another interesting discovery is the HoloLens3. This is a real, wearable, holographic computer, equipped with movement sensors, microphones and audio surround – or should we say, spatial surround, which enables you to understand where the sound is coming from and has a special, specific video-camera. What’s new about it? Put it on and you are catapulted into a reality consisting of holograms, in which to sample unprecedented spatial experiences. You could enter a classroom and find yourself strolling through the universe, or dive into a past as vivid and as colourful as the present. Even the most familiar objects could surprise you and appear in a completely new light.
The total house can transform a place into a true container of perceptive, sensorial experiences, in which ever-changing spaces and furnishings can be built according to your requirements.
Perhaps after the pandemic, our cities will consist of a group of total houses where cars will transform into perfect chauffeurs, in which materials, such as metamaterials4 or 3D graphene will be able to make us invisible or make us live in transparent structures made of very fine but, at the same time, extremely resistant membranes. Perhaps we will not need to design and construct public places, merely because they will be of no use, and perhaps cities of the future will only have underground department stores with long travelators and service lifts. The goods purchased will be sent directly to our homes via the lifts.
Total house 1-Holo House
The project, (figure1-6) based on the presence of holograms, is basically a single, completely empty space, in which all the furnishings and service rooms are located along the perimeter of the house, whereas the central space is divided exclusively via artificial light to create special, optical effects. We are talking of holograms, which use laser light to enter inside the dwelling and make the space scenographically complex, taking the concept of flexibility and transformability of the space to the extreme. This particular perceptive experience allows one to be everywhere and to observe everything: simple furnishings, a sculpture, a theatrical scene, a film, a landscape, etc. Neither matter nor supports exist. The three-dimensional images float in the air, suspended in space. Inside the house, priority has to be given to the design and creation of the spaces intended for the location of the laser projectors (diodes). This implies giving priority to an imaginary subdivision of the space, which will materialise only via the light. Outside, the architecture is matter: it is heavy, closed, and not well illuminated with natural light. The openings are few and small. The scene is set exclusively inside the house, disregarding everything which is outside. This is a world of alternating marvels, via images, which replace one another and still more. It is a space, which resembles a body, the cells of which continually regenerate to testify to the passing of time and of life.
 Communication Strategies Lab, Realtà aumentate. Esperienze, strategie e contenuti per l’Augmented Reality, Apogeo, Milan 2012
 Augmented reality is a fairly recent technology and is continually evolving. If we were to attempt to give it a very general definition, we could say it represents an altered reality, in which artificial and virtual information is superimposed on the normal reality perceived by our senses.
 The Holo project, as yet in the prototype phase, was developed together with NASA. It functions independently and needs no connection with a Smartphone or other device and was revealed at the launch of Windows 10. We still do not know when this marvel will reach the market, or how much it will cost. See https://tecnologia.libero.it/cose-la-realta-aumentata-1054. See also https://www.microsoft.com
 B:A:Munk, Metamaterials: Critique and Alternatives, Wiley, New York 2009. See also Quantum Stealth, il materiale che rende persone e oggetti quasi invisibili https://design.fanpage.it