The Technium

Control Rooms: From Temples to Thrones

I thought control rooms had gone away with mainframes, but apparently not. This page of control room images is a reminder of their variety.  There are tons more via Google.


I’d love to see someone do a semiotic parsing of the architecture of control rooms.

The very name! Then there’s all that switchology. And blinkies! Lots of little windows into hidden worlds. Thrones to view them from. It could keep sociologists and semoticians busy for decades.

I found one paper on the subject: The Semiotics of Control Room Situation Awareness, but it was very empty. After staging a formal vocabulary for discussing the subject, it said nothing about it.

But the more I’ve looked at modern control rooms, the more I want one. In modern versions, all the lights and screens are replaced by essentially a single huge wall screen which can be divided up into as many smaller screens and blinking lights as desired. In this fashion, the control room begins to resemble the ideal work place cubicle. One blogger who has collected some cool modern examples call them “super offices.”

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This one is the control room for the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company.

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In the Czech Republic, the MERO Middle European Raw Oil control center.

At the rate at which flat screens are expanding while dropping in price, one could put together one of these modern super offices in a few years.


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