Media architecture aims to alter our experience of public space through the use of digital media integrated within the built environment. While most current manifestations serve general commercial, artistic or entertaining purposes, we believe media architecture has the potential to become more socially and architecturally relevant. However, little is known on how media architecture becomes more contextually integrated, from a socio-demographic, technical and architectural perspective. In this dissertation, we describe the design and evaluation of four in-the-wild case studies that each address particular contextual challenges of media architecture. All studies utilise a design-oriented research methodology that combines architectural and participatory methods with those from human-computer interaction.
- In OpenWindow, we handed over the control of public displays to households. We were able to demonstrate how such open public displays positively influence social cohesion.
- In StreetTalk, we evaluated how participatory design is able to broaden the design space of sociable media architecture, and how user-generated content is characterised by particular local relevance.
- In Encounters, we analysed the contextual, spatial and social factors that influence engagement in public interactive systems.
- In Stories of Exile, we evaluated how participatory media architecture serves as an interface between local community members and refugees.
Our case studies demonstrate how media architecture becomes a sociable tool that is relevant in its context, by: 1) enabling multiple stakeholders to collaborate in the design; 2) communicating information that is grounded in the local identity; 3) incorporating design characteristics to promote engagement; and 4) optimising the integration within the surrounding architectural context.