Be they smart buildings, campuses or cities there have been calls for not just technically focused solutions for the smart built environment, but rather holistic approaches that link a variety of elements and systems of the built environment and includes organisational and everyday practice considerations for those who will inhabit these environments. It is not that the technological infrastructure is unimportant, it is more that technology should be seen as the backbone of the interconnecting systems of a built environment, and essential to making the ‘systems of systems’ smarter and more sustainable. For built environments to be smart, attention has to be paid to the ‘connections and not just to the parts’. By considering smart technologies as just one component of a holistic built environment, it is possible that progress may be made towards smarter and more sustainable outcomes.
The last few decades have seen the increasingly pervasive use of the term ‘smart’ when it comes to technologies and the built environment. Technology is the material backbone and sustainability a significant aspiration for the designers and organisations developing and occupying ‘smart’ built environments. Allister Hill’s project aims to address the relationship between materiality, space and sustainability in what may be considered a ‘smart’ building – RMIT’s ‘Swanson Academic Building’ (the SAB). The SAB, located on an inner urban university campus, is a 5-star Green Star rated, multi-award winning and hailed as a successful example of a technologically innovative and sustainable building.