The microsphere, the user and the architecture: RFID tracking in architectural spaces

Valinka Suenson, Henrik Harder

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This paper presents a case study of the use of new RFID technology to register different movement patterns. The RFID
technology was tested for the first time in a contemporary library in Denmark placed in Hjørring in November 2009.
The RFID registration shows the library as a place of polyphony of individual routes. The question asked in this paper
is how the RFID registrations can show the multi functionality of a public space. Furthermore, how can architecture be
seen as an active part in attracting valuable users?
The use of RFID technology to register indoor movement patterns is a new and unexplored method in indoor public
spaces and therefore many theoretical discussions will arise in the application of the tracking technology. Peter Sloterdijk’s
conceptions about foam and organisational atmospheres will provide the theoretical framework for this paper.
In the case presented only 50% of library users borrow materials – such as books, music, journals and games - the
other 50% uses the library for different reasons. The aforementioned library has challenged the perception of a library
as purely a quiet space and has replaced bookshelves with social and cultural activities. The social interaction is
strongly encouraged by the physical surroundings. In this way the library has become a public domain where an exchange
between different social groups is possible and also actually occurs. The library offers experiences and encourages
social interaction and not just the basic library functions.
The RFID devices were carried by 252 users over four days and registered where and for how long they stayed in different
places. The RFID tracking covered the movement patterns of both categories of users – borrowers and nonborrowers
According to Sloterdijk every social interaction takes place in a spatial setting which can be termed a micro sphere.
A micro sphere emerges in the interaction between the users and architecture. Together these microspheres create
what he calls a foam structure. This theory will be used in the analysis of the RFID tracking. Thus, the case study in the
library in Hjørring seems as the perfect example, for illustrating the connection between users, physical surroundings
and organizational atmosphere.
Original languageDanish
Publication date2010
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventArchitecture and Social Architecture - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 26 May 201027 May 2010


ConferenceArchitecture and Social Architecture
OtherSpheres and user groups in architectural spaces


  • architecture
  • User

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