Karmen Franinovic – Beyond Kinetic Architecture

20.04.12 / 16:45 / CAAD HPZ F

Karmen Franinovic – Beyond Kinetic Architecture: From Movable Structures to Vibrant Matter

Since more then ten years, physical computing has drastically changed the way in which we use digital technologies in architecture. However, responsive environments and objects are still a collage of hardware components that activate their materials and structures, lights and sounds. In this seminar, I propose a shift from such integration of actuating hardware to an experimentation on the threshold between the mechanic, chemical and electronic. Working with the innate behaviours and physical properties of active materials I suggest that form and interaction can be designed as one, rather than separating behaviour from the physical and structural properties of matter. To support this idea, I will present the experiments with the custom-made materials that illuminate, sound and move when electric currents are passed through them. Their results are membrane structures that suggest a new kind of responsive space that incorporates lightness, softness and organic movement untypical of existing kinetic architectures. I call such architectures enactive in order to underline the explorative experience of inhabitants of such space, and to reflect on the direct engagement with materials during research-creation.


Karmen works on the crossroads between design, architecture, art and science. Her research focuses on new materials, sonic gesture, design methods and enactive experience, resulting in projects ranging from haptic interfaces for stroke rehabilitation to responsive urban installations.  By introducing interactive technologies into architecture and public space, Karmen’s works aim to engage participants/inhabitants/citizens in social interaction and physical exploration of their surroundings. They have been presented at Ircam/Centre Pompidou (Paris), SF Cameraworks (San Francisco), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo(Torino), Bienal Miami + Beach, Museum of Modern Art (Ljubljana), Far Eastern Memorial Foundation (Taipei) and others.

Karmen holds the Laurea degree with Honors from Istituto Universitario di Archittetura di Venezia,  and the Master’s degree from the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. She worked as a project designer on architectural projects with AltenArchitekten, Studio ArchA, Studio Sottass, Arata Isozaki and Associates, and Arup.  Karmen is the co-founder of Zero-Th studios and the head of Interaction Design group at Zurich University of the Arts.