Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.Arch.

Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Trent Green, M.Arch.

Keywords

St. Kitts, Interaction, Caribbean, Heritage, Culture

Abstract

Dance, costume, and music are all reflective of a heritage that has been intact over three hundred years. The street activities during carnival season on the island of St. Kitts can be described as dynamic excitement between the onlookers, the Masqueraders, a local folklore group, and other carnival players. The interactive play amongst group members of the Masqueraders is one that tells a story of the colonization and perseverance of a nation influenced by Indian, European and African past. There is often, however a disconnection between an outsider, 'the audience', and the culture of the island. Only when the interactive play amongst the players is disseminated throughout the audience, inducing a response to embrace the culture does an outsider gains a better understanding of the culture.

By expressing this interactive performance of the Masquerades through responsive architecture the stage can be set where the outsider can become submerged in a full cultural experience. In 2003 the Parsons School of Design succeeded in creating several interactive wall systems to monitor social behavior of passersby by creating movable walls that revealed seating ar- eas during high traffic periods. In the marketing world "interactive wall(s)" informs consumers, workers and potential clients of information on a particular product. Although successful within their own realms, these wall systems lack the ability to meet individual needs based on a particular cultural region. Analyzing the Masqueraders and conducting interviews will be of importance to this thesis research. Once information has been collected and compared responsive systems will be designed and tested.

Frequent comparisons will be made with the investigations carried out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kinetic Design Group and Parsons School of Design. Responsive architecture can be used as modern day folklore, as in story telling, to conjure up the cultural spirit of a place, exhibit architectural aesthetics while offering an outsider an authentic and spectacular interactive experience. The results of this investigation will be geared towards improving human experiences on cultural levels.

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