Interactive architecture is the embodiment of an idea or message that is installed with the purpose of invoking an emotive or physical response.
The interaction can be on a variety of scales, engaging an individual, or an entire community. In the last decade, Fort Wayne has undergone a resurgence, renewing its identity as the northeast region of Indiana. The construction of Parkview Field was catalytic for the redevelopment of downtown. It was an integral movement that led to the opportunity of weaving our cultural fabric through a multitude of applications; interactive architecture is playing a major role. With the momentum of downtown improvement paired with the aspirations we hold as a community, we can hopefully begin to work towards resolving the problems facing our city regarding health, social interaction, and lack of relevancy. Here, we’ll look at a series of case studies in our community and beyond that enhance public well-being through interactive architecture.
The High Line Park on the west side of Manhattan repurposes an old freight rail line that allows for pedestrians to circulate above the congestion of city life. New York City residents use this space to exercise, gather with friends and family, and as a means of connecting to the local history and architecture. This restoration project has become part of NYC culture and a popular destination for visitors.
The Urban Alley Infill project celebrates the space in between. This project was a proposal submitted by Project One Studio to address the underutilization of alley networks throughout Indianapolis. The idea was to highlight alleys as a gathering place and opportunity for local art installations, creating a new means of circulating and interacting with the city.
Fort Wayne’s riverfront, train underpasses, and alley activation projects are all current and past examples of interactive architecture in our area. As we continue to redevelop our city, efforts should be made by local artists, architects/designers, engineers, and residents alike to assure that new construction or renovations celebrate our cultural fabric. Buildings can serve as business function as well as a symbol of growth and liveliness of the Fort Wayne renaissance. Pockets of redevelopment can be linked through installations that capture the thoughts, feelings, and aspirations of our community. Residents and visitors will be able to experience Fort Wayne on multiple levels, from walking through downtown to driving.
Fort Wayne has initiatives working on these efforts. The Downtown Improvement District's Art This Way is an alley activation project responsible for several of the City’s murals. This summer alone, they funded the installation of three new murals. The City’s Public Art Program is a new initiative seeking “to enhance the visual environment and strengthen the positive reputation, brand, and stature of Fort Wayne and its neighborhoods by promoting and integrating publish art throughout the city.”
Encouraged physical activity, social gathering, and emotional ties to the area are just some of the possible benefits of being mindful about the kinds of installations the community can create. These installations will attract pedestrians and bicyclists to previously under-utilized areas. The integration of interactive architecture, whether it be murals, sculptures, water features, or exhibits, will create a cohesive identity to Fort Wayne and unite the community and its professionals in continued efforts of thoughtful design.
Leigh Groninger and Connor Ennist