It took ages to get the amazing Dagmar Reinhardt back on the phone.

She’d agreed to be one of our star attractions at our upcoming event – a really big one for us – and then chooffed off overseas to chair a conference on robotics, or whatever else global change agents do.

But finally this week, Wednesday in fact, back she came to her base at the University of Sydney and gave us a tantalising glimpse of what her presentation will be like for our event on building technology, design and materials for a sustainable future – Visit Tomorrowland.

Dagmar had been strongly recommended to us as a super star, author of a “major book” on robotics (Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design, 2016) and a must have for any event we were going to do on buildings of the future.

To see unfolding details of the event see Visit Tomorrowland here.

(A limited number of early bird tickets are available now for the quick. So get in early)

So when Dagmar called we were ready.

“What I’m interested in is how to collaborate with robots, sharing the same workspace.

“One part of my talk is how dumb the robot is. Think about Marshall McLuhan … you can’t repeat the same message with an old medium. The new medium produces a new way of communicating. The TV is not the same as a book; it creates new cultural practices. Our robot-driven buildings will make buildings with new cultural practices.

 “I’m interested in making buildings faster, more extravagant and more productive with new materials. Make them more dynamic. We want buildings to change according to the sun or the temperature.

“With climate change we will need buildings to completely change.”

See why we get excited in this business?

Dagmar Reinhardt

But for Dagmar robotics is just one thing she wants to talk about; this fascinating woman wants to refer to the work of others and a new key area she’s investigating is to do with the movement of air and smog in outdoor public spaces.

We will all be forgiven for loads of questions on robots though. It’s what everyone wants to know about because robots could be challenging our jobs. Or will they just widen the scope of creative potential?

This goes hand-in-hand with deep curiosity about artificial intelligence and cyborg technology which may soon integrate our bodies with a building so our hands can open doors or turn on equipment and so on. Creepy?

You bet.

Alex Sinickas, who is head of R&D for Arup, says she wants to discuss the ethical issues of digital and sensor integration in our workplaces, when data will be able to be collected on our whereabouts, who we’re interacting with in cyberspace and pretty soon, you fear, what we’re thinking…

Are we comfortable with what’s on the way? How do we want to design these sensors that will also have huge practical and sustainability value?

And of course there is the eternal question of who gets access to our information.

All of this winds into an increasing focus on our human experience in a building – buildings as places and symbols of something far greater than their utilitarian values.

That shifting sentiment might explain why Hassell at the end of last year paid $6 million for user experience outfit called FreeState for $6 million. Not a bad price for something that measures the ephemeral over the concrete.

Creative director Adam Scott said in our story at the time, “What that means is that brands – and places – now live or die by how well they inspire attraction, involvement and a sense of belonging.”

Alexandra Sinickas Research Leader Foresight, Research & Innovation, Arup

That means you Ms or Mr office building owner, manager and designer have a new set of imperatives that go well beyond how the aircon works, and how attractive the space is, including how healthy it is. Of course all those things make up that indefinable sense of place.

FreeState has already worked with property companies Brookfield Property and Exemplar. And Arup, our lead sponsor on this event, is using the service to work out how to “truly capture what’s great about working with and at Arup within our new workplace,” according to Arup’s buildings principal and office leader Dr Joseph Correnza.

If this sounds airy and nebulous (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) things are getting even stranger when it comes to designing the future in buildings land.

As science moves at the speed of light and the future advances to today, building designers are feeling pressured to come up with responses that will be able to bend and warp to meet needs no one can even guess at today.

(L-R): FreeState creative director Adam Scott, HASSELL managing director Rob Backhouse and HASSELL chief executive Gerard Corcoran.

Designing for the unknown in other words.

So some (Google we hear) are trying to build kinetic buildings.

Dagmar referred to dynamic buildings.

If it sounds like a genuine contradiction in terms and slightly gravity defying, you’d be right. Some of this is not yet successful. It’s a stretch of the imagination that hasn’t found a boundary yet.

But that’s exactly what’s going on.

The property industry is not paperback novel, sci-fi or not. It’s constructing huge buildings with massive investments and long lifespans that many people rely on for living and quality of life.

This event is designed to find how those lifespans can be expanded, become more flexible, useable, healthy, fun, active, productive, economic and sustainable.

Come along and let us blow your mind for a few hours (8.30 am to 2.30 pm).

A massive thanks to our lead sponsor Arup, and to supporting sponsors Frasers Property Australia, CRC for Low Carbon Living, WoodSolutions, and to our design collaboration partners GECA and Pollinate.

As you will know support of our events substantially underpins the free service to readers that we are determined to continue.

So book early.

And book for many.