How can embedded computation change the way we experience our surroundings? What is the value of creating dynamic spaces? This class will focus on the design and prototyping of reactive spaces. Over the course of several small projects and one large final project, students will learn where, when and how to embed computationally-driven experiences into the the built environment.

You will be required to design, render and build experiences and interactions for specific locations and with specific intentions. By the end of the course students should expect to know how to use sensor and API data to manipulate an environment through light, sound and motion output. Previous experience with programming, electronics or fabrication is encouraged, but not required. However, students are expected to learn these skills on their own with minimal in-class instruction.


We will meet Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 1:20pm. Our primary meeting place is Hunt A10, however we will often meet in other locations depending on that day’s lesson plan. The overall semester schedule is likely to change based on our progress, but in general expect the following timeline:

High Level:

  • Week 1 : Introduction, Mini Design Project
  • Week 2 – 3: Intro Tech Workshops
  • Week 4 – 6: Peripheral Data Display
  • Week 8 – 9: Mini Projects
  • Week 10 – 14: Final Project

Detailed Schedule


You will be graded on the successful completion of three projects and also on the intangible aspects of participating in a studio-style course including attendance, participation and positive impact on discussions and design development. The general grading breakdown is as follows:

  • Project_0 – Mini Design Project – 5%
  • Project_1 – Peripheral Data Display – 20%
  • Project_2 – Mini Projects – 15%
  • Project_3 – Final Project – 40%
  • Intangibles – Attendance*/Participation/Effort – 20%

If you miss class more than once with an unexcused absence you will lose 5% of your total course grade. If you miss class more than twice you will lose 10% of your total course grade. Attendance and participation is mandatory and you must contact me prior to class if you need to miss for any reason. Reasonable excuses for missing class include health/wealthness/family emergencies.


Please read and become familiar with the IDeATe lending and purchasing policies, which can be accessed at The IDeATe facilities are shared student resources and spaces. As such, all members of the IDeATe community are expected to be respectful of the equipment, the spaces, and fellow students and their projects. Always clean up after completing your work, put things back in their correct place, and leave the lab in better condition than you found it.
Students may be required to purchase materials to complete class projects. For convenience, some materials are available for borrowing and for purchase at IDeATe Lending (Hunt A29).


Reactive Spaces and Media Architecture Fall 2017




This course is unique in that your projects may fit into a multitude of categories and citations and proper references will vary depending on your intended audience.
That said, the expectation is that you will go out of your way to find the appropriate means of referencing other’s work. This is particularly important in a field where we synthesize technologies developed in another’s field and apply it to interactive scenarios.
We expect students to assist each other throughout the course of the semester. This includes teaching other students from your own expertise. Please use your best judgement in deciding when you’ve gone from teaching to spoon feeding.
You will work collaboratively at times throughout the semester. If this is the case, we expect you to make clear which parts of each project were completed by each student.
All students are expected to work on all technical aspects of each project including coding, fabrication and wiring.
CMU’s academic integrity policy outlines the University’s position on academic integrity and the penalties associated with transgressions of said policy. Please read it.