Architectural Storytelling: narrative and spectacle connecting people with place

Architectural Storytelling is a technique exclusive to illuminart, that combines community engagement, storytelling and heritage, and animated projection mapping to present an unfolding storyline or sequence wrapped onto a building.

Our process taps into the heart of a community and extends the legacy of the project well beyond the spectacle itself. Involving a well established method of community arts and cultural development, we work in collaboration and partnerships to draw out ideas unique to each community. Our long lasting relationships in each community build skill and participation, contributing to a vibrant digital culture around Australia.

Some examples of illuminart’s Architectural Storytelling projects

AlbanyEntMockup_FarewellAlbany Projections and Storytelling – Illuminart was commissioned to create a trail of Storytelling projections and a spectacular Harbour Lights ceremony for the centenary of the departure of the ANZAC troopships from Albany, held 30 Oct – 2nd Nov 2014.

The team worked closely with Albany artists, photographers, writers and producers to curate and present a number of stunning, locally significant projection stories.

Peacock on Winthrop Hall at UWALuminous Hall 2013 – The Centenary of the University of Western Australia was celebrated with luminous events and installations on the 8th of February 2013.

Illuminart created an audiovisual mapped projection that transformed Winthrop Hall with architecturally mapped narrative commemorating UWA’s history, involving dozens of alumni, students, staff and graduates in a collaborative and consultative process that was the feature event of the UWA cultural precinct.

Old Port Chambers, Lipson Street during Port InhabitedPort Inhabited 2011, an award winning precinct project, featuring projection onto multiple buildings in a single precinct, interweaving significant historical media with entertaining and vibrant local stories.

It was researched with input of community members, local historians and Kaurna elders over many months to create the synchronised audiovisual journey and an immersive animated precinct.

The Ribbon DSCF5559PondiThe Ribbon 2010, Architectural Projection Art commissioned for Country Arts SA and the Rural City of Murray Bridge. The audiovisual story depicted memories and stories contributed by Murray Bridge residents, mapped onto the historic town hall building.

The scenes were all created from stories and creative contributions by local residents of Murray Bridge, representing the diverse cultures and backgrounds of the area.

Harts Mill Inhabited (Scene 3 - Architext)Harts Mill Inhabited 2009, a site specific audiovisual projection that told a story (using high powered audiovisual projection) on and about the historic Harts mill building, interweaving local ideas and memories of the building and the Port River, with the artist’s own vision.

The story is told as though through the eyes and experiences of the Harts Mill itself, as if it is a character of many years’ knowledge telling the younger buildings on the western shore of the Port River, what it has seen and may yet see.

Illuminart’s Architectural Storytelling Model

The Architectural Storytelling concept builds on Son et Lumier and technologies involved in projection mapping, but works on a deeper level to create a work that endures beyond the spectacle. It offers an experience to audiences of all ages to share together, with multiple levels of engagement and meaning to be enjoyed. It is grounded in research, consultation, and contemporary forms of screenwriting.

Harts Mill Inhabited (Scene 5 - Change)The first project to follow this model was Harts Mill Inhabited, created by illuminart in 2009. It was a twenty minute show that precisely matched the architectural features of the red brick building, using them as features and components of the audiovisual story about the history of the mill and the area. The story sequence represented community’s ideas about its story and significance, constructed through consultation.

Illuminart has developed many other Architectural Storytelling projects since then including the 2013 Luminous Hall for the University of Western Australia. The projects have provided the audiences with a strong experience of connection to the stories and heritage of the buildings, enhancing the profile and the sense of place.

The Process of making an Architectural Storytelling project

Illuminart’s architectural storytelling projections explore and preserve the heritage of the community through collaboration with local historians, storytellers and community artists to draw out stories and themes of local significance. The process of research may involve collecting oral history and stories, recorded through writing or digital media recording; archival research to source photographs and records; and community workshops to uncover gossip, tall tales, memorabilia and treasures. The selected building is also a primary point of investigation and interpretation.

From this, illuminart develop a narrative thread that bring together the voices of the past, with graphical treatments and illustrative animations playing upon the architecture. This unique storycrafting process, in consultation with partners and community, is led by projection artist and director Cindi Drennan, who brings together technical and creative skills from writing, editing, illustration and theatre to direct and present the work.

The resulting Architectural projection narratives are a contemporary form of storytelling and heritage interpretation. The events, usually presented as a large community spectacle supported by sponsors and cultural funding over several nights, bring diverse, intergenerational audiences together to enjoy and share the stories, bringing a stronger sense of connection to architectural heritage as a historical document and repository of memory.