Imagine luminaires that could fly and visualise new buildings or individually guide you through space. What would happen if you could even interact with these flying pixels? These concepts could be realised in the near future as the first prototypes and experiments are being introduced. Software-driven LED pixels combined with drone swarm technology provide extraordinary possibilities for inducing new forms of spatial experience. These luminous pixel clouds emerge as digital patterns, but at the same time they emanate a romantic quality with their unique star formations twinkling in the night sky. The first projects have shared a playful note, but laboratories such as MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, ARES Lab and Ars Electronica Futurelab have shown an intriguing future in urban design for guidance systems or envisioning real estate developments, as advances in battery technology and wireless control have opened new perspectives for a life with smart flying pixels.
From November 19-22 in Aarhus, the Media Architecture Biennale 2014 held in will feature the world premier of ”Mapping the Senseable City,” an exhibition of the now ten-year-old MIT Senseable Cities Lab’s collected works. The following essay was written by Matthew Claudel, a researcher at the Senseable Cities Lab, In response to this collection, exploring what the future holds for media architecture, and imploring it to explore ideas beyond “TV screens for living in.”
The Actuated Cathedral
Media architecture is emphatically ambiguous. The phrase has been pasted wholesale onto a dizzying array of projects and products. But beyond imprecision, media architecture is vexed by an inherent tension: media are networked, immediate, dynamic communication systems that reach people broadly, while architecture is sited, singular, and persistent in time. Reconciling the two evokes clumsy associations with Times Square, screens, integrated LEDs, paparazzi, or more generally things that flicker.
Renovated numerous times during its history, Gaumont-Alésia, a Parisian cinema housed in a structure that is over 80 years old, will now be revamped by firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. With a design that emphasizes filmography’s presence in modern culture, the Gaumont-Alésia is set to become an inviting cultural hub for the surrounding city, showcasing cinema’s influence on both the interior and exterior.
Both street facades will be composed of glass curtain walls shaded by pleated metal panels. These panels will be perforated by hundreds of LED “pixels” which will create an image across the pleats. Both entrances to the building become animated walls, broadcasting film stills, movie trailers, and advertisements, all meant to entice passersby. The LEDS are spaced fewer and farther apart toward the edges of the building, creating a stippling effect around the border of the images. At the entrances these animated panels will peel upwards, creating a canopy under which patrons can walk.
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Project Team: Diogo Aguiar, João Jesus, Teresa Otto e Álvaro Villa, Tania Costa Coll
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
In Joshua Tree, California, artist Phillip K Smith III has completed Lucid Stead: an optical illusion/installation that modifies an abandoned 70-year-old homestead with mirrors in order to make it appear transparent. The cabin was also fitted with LED lighting to “extract the distilled experience of how light changes over time — how a mountain can be blue, red, brown, white, purple, and black all in one day.” As Smith stated, the project is about light, shadow, and tapping into the quiet of the desert. Check out more images and a video of the cabin after the break!
For his thesis project, Javier Lloret turned a building into a giant, solvable Rubik’s Cube. Making use of the media facade of the Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, he projected the world’s most famous handheld puzzle onto a huge scale – inviting passers-by to solve the puzzle. In the process, Lloret transformed the nearby area, showing that (when used correctly) technology can make the urban environment more fun.
Read on to find out how Lloret did it…
California-based GDS Architects‘ new proposal, dubbed Infinity Tower, is designed to disappear from its Korean skyline. How? Cameras will be mounted at six strategic points; thousands of LED screens on the facade will then broadcast the real-time photos captured and logged by the cameras. Though no estimated completion date has been announced, the developers have received construction permits to break ground. More about this incredible vanishing act and how it’s done at Fast Co-Design.
London-based United Visual Artists (UVA) has brought Sou Fujimoto’s “cloud-like” Serpentine Pavilion to life with an “electrical storm” of LEDs. With the intention of making the architecture “breathe” from within, UVA seamlessly integrated a network of LED lights into the latticed, 20mm steel pole structure that mimics the natural forms of an electric storm. In addition, carefully conducted auditory effects further enhance the experience, transforming Fujimoto’s “radical pavilion” into an electrified geometric cloud.
Light matters, a monthly column on light and space, is written by Thomas Schielke. Based in Germany, he is fascinated by architectural lighting, has published numerous articles and co-authored the book „Light Perspectives“.
Today we have permanent media façade installations worldwide that call for attention. With size, tempo, colour and brightness they stand up as individuals within the urban nightscape. Many of them send out their luminous messages in a broadcast mode. For this reason, neighbours, on occasion, demand an intense dialogue with regard to content and form of the media façade, especially as it’s often unclear whether light installations are architecture or advertisement.
However, in the same way a good book requires a storyteller, media facades demand curators to arrange exciting stories that fit into the site and suit the client. The following four examples show how media facades reflect the story of the buildings themselves – see them all, after the break…
Ivan Toth Depeña’s light-based installation “Reflect” was permanently installed in the Stephen Clark Government Center Lobby in Miami in November, 2011. Commissioned by the Miami-Dade Art in Public Places initiative, the work illuminates the dynamism of the lobby space and encourages a sense of discovery in the visitors.
Architects: Langarita Navarro Arquitectos – María Langarita, Víctor Navarro
Location: Medialab Prado, Madrid, Spain
Collaborators: María Langarita, Víctor Navarro, Juan Palencia, Roberto Gonzalez
Client: Area de las Artes, Ayuntamiento de Madrid
General Contractor: Pecsa Teconsa U.T.E.
Lighting Consultant: Ca2l
Project Area: 144 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Construction Year: 2008-2009
Photographs: Miguel de Guzman
Architects: OTASH studio
Location: Kremlin, Moscow, Russia
Authors: Dejan Otasevic, Ivo Otasevic, Uros Otasevic (designer)
Project architectural team: Slobodan Damjanovic, Pavle Bogdanovic
Associates: Nenad Peranovic, Marija Simsic, Dragana Mijatovic
Design Year: 2007
Project Year: 2008-2009
Photographs: OTASH studio
Edtudio Mariscal did a complete work for H&M in Barcelona: Architecture, lighting, furniture, graphics… even the shopping bags.
Architecture, interiors and graphic design: Estudio Mariscal
Location: c/ Portal de l’Àngel 22, Barcelona, Spain
Area: 1.720 m2
Contractor: Dula Bau
Furniture and commercial equipment: Dula Ibérica
Structural engineering: nb35
Architects: Atelier Phileas (member of PLAN01)
Location: Malakoff, France
Program: Head quarter room, technical spaces, Offices, meeting rooms, Renovation of the subway station Etienne Dolet, Urban lanscape
Constructed Area: 1,600 sqm
Budget: 4.5M Euro + tax (US $5.67M + tax)
Project year: 2006
Photographer: Stéphane Chalmeau, Frédéric Delangle