Hi-tech + Low-tech

Marcos Cruz, Marjan Colletti and Javier Ruiz

In a time of increasing demand for sustainable solutions in technology and design, much has been argued for the reintroduction of low-tech procedures in high-tech environments. The main premise has been to reconsider old, vernacular or traditional systems and make them again part of our contemporary life. This has certainly been a hugely significant step towards diminishing the implementation of resource-hungry technologies and materials that have been over-used in the twentieth century. Our contemporary society has acknowledged that longestablished techniques have been greatly successful in the past and often simpler, more environmental friendly and ‘human’ than newly developed, excessively synthetic procedures that were invented from scratch.

However, the great advantage we have nowadays is that it is not mandatory to revert to the basics of vernacular architecture. We are currently witnessing the emergence of a new paradigm in which an intensified use of new technology allows us to increase the precision of design and manufacturing and customised replication of components, but also helps us embrace a novel sense of materiality in architecture that can be both analogue and digital, conceptual and physical, hard and soft, technical and poetic, etc. Designers are able to predict form and performance prior to materialisation and at the same time rethink ancient techniques in an entirely new, post-digital way. Besides the great advantages in terms of design control that allows us to invent forms that have a far higher level of complexity and space than before, this insight opens up architecture to a truly multi-disciplinary and contextual approach: not only can we now participate in co-authoring novel material-material assemblages, we can also co-author material-urban and material-nature aggregations and a plethora of other composites.