The physical materials and processes used to design and construct the built environment reveal the growing application of information technology enhancements. Such materials and methods effectively represent a kind of expanded matter (x-matter), insofar as their functionality has been augmented with increased capabilities not found in their traditional, unembellished counterparts. Despite the importance of this transformation, which has been fueled by the growth of communications and computing technologies, there is a lack of scholarship concerning a holistic evaluation of this phenomenon and its future implications—particularly from the perspective of material-focused fields such as architecture and product design. This essay therefore offers a concise proposal for a comprehensive framework in which to understand the evolving relationships between matter and information, aimed towards individuals within built environment-related disciplines. Fundamental areas of material-information interaction, or capacities of x-matter, are illustrated by representative examples, in addition to considerations of historical precedents and future opportunities.
“From Matter to X-Matter: Exploring the Newfound Capacities in Information-Enhanced Materials.” Materials and Design 90 (2015), 1238-1247. This article was designated as a “Key Scientific Article” by Advances in Engineering research news on May 30, 2016.