Storytelling architecture

Tirana Design Week 2019


*Future Architecture Platform Creative


Vojtech Rada


General overview of the workshop

The general structure of the course during the Tirana Design Week

Ideally to work 6-8 hours a day for 5 days, with a final exbition on site specific place in Tirana.

The place and type of the course in the general framework of the study program Architecture as a tool for telling stories, both fictional and real, embeded in the city of Tirana.

The general content and the motivation for the composition of this proposal

The idea is to have two group of people - first group of storytellers (fictional writers, or a historians, witnesses of some events), basically someone who has a important story about Tirana, something which took place or could have happend in its streets, squares, buildings.

The second group would be ordinary architects. They would make pairs with writers and architects would help them to describe their story. The ideal outcome would be a site specific instalation consisting of plans, visualisations, 3D models or PC games describing the story.

The result would take place in the same place where the story is being described and would encourage general public passing by to go trough it, or at least know about it more.

The motivation to this is that architects have a various skills, which could be used to tell important stories. Architects often see themselves as a designers of future, of something new, but they can surely help even with the past or fiction. After all, they all shoud have a great imagination. Storytellers often need someone who would help them to mediate their stories and make their way to public. I believe that architects have skills that can be used for this cause.

The objectives of the workshop

Use tools of architecture, like CAD drawings, temporary architectural interventions, visualisations, 3D modeling and game engines to illustrate and mediate stories about Tirana to general public. Using architecture as a storytelling tool, to help to know a past or ficiton side of Tirana better, directly in its streets. Tell important stories about Tirana directly to general public in public spaces.


The outcomes of the course

The outcome of the course are few fast-paced temporary guerilla-like site specific instalations in public spaces of Tirana and some material like CAD drawings, visualisations, 3D models or even PC games describing events which took place or could have taken place in the public spaces of Tirana. These instalations are based on a colaboration of a storytellers (writers, historians, contemporary witnesses of some events in Tirana) and between architects. The architects should learn how to mediate something which is not a bulding, but took places in urban area, where the streets and public spaces played important role. How to tell a story trough architecture about events in urban spaces and how to tell something out of it to general public directly in public spaces. Writers or storytellers should learn how to collaborate with architects while describing a stories and how can architecture be useful when describing events which took place in streets of Tirana.

During a temporary site-specific instalation are both architect and storyteller present on the site and both have specific role in mediation of their work to general public. Their goal is somehow to grasp an attention of people passing by, to tell them this story.


The content of the course

Before the collaboration can begin, storytellers should have already some draft of the story.

They should be able to send it with the application, so it can be discussed, adjusted or further developed prior to the beginning of the collaboration.

On the first meeting there should be a matchmaking session, where the storytellers will introduce their stories form a team with architect. There can be even more architects in one group than one.

The first part of the collaboration would focus on where the final event-site specific instalation should take place.

Important part of the collaboration between architects and storytellers is how to approach to the public, in order to be seen, to grasp an attention, but not to be invasive or too cocky. It is

important to choose the place wisely, to have a place where it is normal for people to wait for some time, so they should be open to have some spare minutes. This could be places like bus stations, airports, train stations, galleries, libraries, shops with long queues, cyber-cafes, ordinary cafees, pubs etc. In this case architects should give advices to storyteller how to best approach to the selection of the place. As for the real stories, it is more important to choose places where is a chance that people will have time to listen and it is possible to adapt the story to a different place. This should be resolved in a first day.

In the second phase architects should think about the story and what they should produce for visual material to describe it and how to present it in the public. The storytellers should think how to work with a text and story so that it is manageble to tell it in a few minutes. They

could also develop a longer version for people who are interested, but main goal is to be able to present the whole thing under five minutes (according to the condition of the place etc).

It is also important that adequate medium is chosen at this stage to present the idea. This could be ideally something which already exists on the site, but is somehow altered, that it can tell a story. Both should also be thinking at this stage what kind of things are they going to do at the site. For example this could mean to produce a fake ticket kiosk, handing out tickes with the story at the railwaystation, to make a fake menu at the pub, describing the events that took place in the pub, to make a table with PC at cyber cafe with preinstalled app which tells

a story, to make a fake shop at the public market/square, where you could give free models of some building out of your story, to make a fake info point at the airport, where you could hand out fake leaflets describing the story etc.

The architect and storyteller should have some role in the event itself and of course should take appropriate measures before doing so - the whole thing should be very temporary and should be moveable in few minutes to continue somewhere else if banned during the process.

Ideally it would mean to collaborate with the actual building/organization and tell them about the project and how it can be benefitial to them. Other option is to make it directly in public space, where there are not so stric rules.

Key words: storytelling in architecture, fictional architecture,


click here to download the PDF file

Assignments/Projects and other requirements

It is important that the storytellers have their story drafts ready together with the application,

so that it can be fruther developed, adjusted etc, before the workshop starts. Everything should be in English, but the event itself and material for general public should be done according to the situation.

- maximum 15 people/ 5 groups

I would say it is reasonable to have maximum five groups that will attend, meaning 10-15 people

(2 or 3 people per group).

- small budget for each group

It would be nice to have a small budget/scrap material/hardware tools. But I believe that this can be done also with very low budget, guerilla-like approach. This really depends on the projects which will be developed, but I believe some projects results could just mean to produce leaflets and make a fake kiosk/news stand, which can be done very easily with almost zero costs.

- place for design and place for producing

It would be nice to have a room where to meet and create stuff, meaning some acces to the workshop with tools and hardware and some clean space like classrom with internet, electricity etc.


The methodology and didactic aspect

At the beginning I would explainin the topic and the goals of the workshop to the particitpants.

I would show some examples of my previous workshops which I led on similiar topics as well as the results - as on the pictures below.

Than I would mediate the work between architects and storytellers. I would help with producing the visual material as well as with the actural production of final event. I can teach how to operate with various software (Adobe Creative Suite - Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, After

Effects, Autodesk 3Ds max and Maya, Blender, Rhino, Autocad, PHP, C++, Arduino and Raspebrry Pi, Unity and Unreal game engines, as well as casting from plaster, wood work, etc.).

The work itself is structuted as a collaboration of two different people, with an aim to learn from each other and understand the advantages and work processes.

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