Cities: ideas and insights on the cities we live in

Research conducted by Anne (James) Kovač
Ph.D. in Architecture and Design
Kyoto Institute of Technology
Department of Architecture and Design

(excerpt from full dissertation)


Towards the Integration of Multimedia and Architecture:
A Theoretical Framework for Understanding the Architectural Significance of Multimedia



The motivation for this research came out of my experience working as an architect for affordable-housing. During that time, what especially interested me was the role of cultural institutions for underserved communities and the ways in which architecture could contribute to the benefit of these communities. I saw in multimedia the capacity to be a catalyst for innovation in the architectural design of cultural institutions in two key ways. First, multimedia is shaping the content and the ways we access, exchange, distribute or experience information. Second, as it will be shown, multimedia has the potential to influence an architectural space. Consequently, I became involved in integrating media with architecture in an effort to develop forms of cultural institutions that serve broader communities with more flexible physical and categorical boundaries, providing a richer diversity of content, fitting to a broader range of interests.

The integration of multimedia into physical spaces is actively being explored from the perspective of informatics and interaction design. Similar efforts in architecture, albeit existing, are much less significant. This led me to start the current PhD research with the preliminary hypothesis ‘multimedia as an architectural material’.

My aim is to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the influence, significance and effects of media in an architectural context. In the future, I hope to work on developing new forms of cultural institutions and the architecture and exhibition spaces that support them.



This research examines the architectonic capacity and potential of integrating multimedia and architecture. An initial investigation into contemporary efforts using multimedia in a space, pointed to progressive works of multimedia installation art and interactive spaces as particularly interesting and relevant to the field of architecture. These works provided a valuable initial research frame for analysis and interpretation.

Case studies of 25 works of multimedia installation art and interactive spaces were analyzed to determine the influence of multimedia in an architectural space and the significance of such influences for an architectural context. Efforts focused on establishing a theoretical basis for architects, artists and designers to support future practical applications.

Thee case study findings provide a basis to establish a ‘multimedia effects matrix’ that proposes transformation, interactivity and temporality as three key forms of multimedia influence. The transformative, interactive and temporal influences of multimedia when analyzed with respect to what Kenneth Frampton describes as the three converging vectors that define an architectural work, known as, ‘tectonics, topos and typos’, establishes nine resultant forms of multimedia effects. These include transformative tectonics, transformative topology, transformative typology, interactive tectonics, interactive topology, interactive typology, temporal tectonics, temporal topology, and temporal typology. This matrix effectively describes any of the resultant architectural effects observed in the case studies that were produced by multimedia influences.

Referencing six of the original 25 case studies, a comparative analysis investigated correlations between principles of shaping space with multimedia and established principles of constructing architecture. Based on findings from the multimedia effects matrix, a set of six hypothetical integrative design strategies were proposed. These strategies are intended to illustrate possible means of translating theoretical concepts established in this dissertation into practical applications.

The general results present a theoretical framework that aims to ground architects in the multidisciplinary knowledge base necessary to inform the practical application of integrative strategies for multimedia and architecture.