Estudio Guto Requena has designed a new façade, which also doubles as an urban art intervention, for the Hotel WZ Jardins in São Paulo. Dubbed “The Light Creature,” the 30-story facade is visible both during the day and at night, changing to interact with its surroundings and responding to stimuli like air quality and sound. During the day the façade has a pixilated blue, gray and gold skin that serves as “a visual reflection of the soundscape of São Paulo’s iconic Avenida Rebouças,” and at night it is illuminated by interactive light patterns.
Learn more about The Light Creature after the break.
From the architect: The new facade of the Hotel WZ Jardins by Estudio Guto Requena is a research project that explores the "Hacked City" and how we can bring positive changes to cities, their public spaces and architecture by plugging in poetic and functional systems that encourage changes in real-time that are impromptu, collaborative and affordable.
Originally built in the 1970s, the Hotel WZ Jardins in São Paulo, Brazil, has recently been retrofitted. The new facade was designed by Guto Requena as a work of urban art and a 30-story intervention that is visible both day and night.
In the daytime, a coat of metal sheet creates a pixelated skin in blue, gray and gold. This urban camouflage was designed from the analysis of on-site ambient noise by using parametric software. The result is a visual reflection of the soundscape of São Paulo´s iconic Avenida Rebouças.
At night, the metal skin is illuminated by interactive light patterns. This "luminous creature" inhabits the hotel's facade and displays its unique behavior by reacting in real-time to different stimuli. Sensors installed on the building collect sounds that affect the creature´s form and movement. Other sensors measure air quality and change the color accordingly. A mobile phone application allows anyone to directly interact with this luminous creature by voice or by finger taps.
DAY FACADE: PARAMETRIC CAMOUFLAGE
The design brief required us to wrap the original structure with a system of metal sheets, thus renewing its architecture. Then, with the assistance of a computer, we clothed the building with a colorful graphic pattern based on a 24-hour soundscape recorded at various points around the hotel's third floor. Then we generated the building's digital model together with the peaks and valleys of the audio file four times, thus representing four periods of the day: morning, afternoon, evening and night. With the help of Grasshopper parametric software, the various sound volumes control the position of each metal sheet. Peak audio levels define the position of the gold sheet, moderate, the navy blue, quiet, the light blue, and silence, grey. A pixelated camouflage results that visually reflects the soundscape of the Avenida Rebouças, one of São Paulo's busiest.
NIGHT FACADE: THE LUMINOUS CREATURE
At dusk the metal skin is lit with 200 strips of low energy LED lighting that give life to the luminous creature and create an interactive dynamic with the city and its inhabitants. This creature behaves on its own, reacting in real-time to environmental stimuli and people. Ambient noise directly affects the creature's form and motion via microphones installed on the building. Local air quality changes its colors through another group of sensors. Polluted air gives the creature warmer tones such as reds and oranges. When air quality improves, the cooler colors such as blues and greens appear. A mobile app allows the public to interact directly with the luminous creature in two ways: through touch (via a visual dynamic inspired by the classic "Game of Life", a cellular automaton developed in the 1970s by the English mathematician John Horton Conway - and through voice by speaking with the building, which registers sound waves on its facade.
We hacked the original architecture by plugging in sensors, chips, microcontrollers and LED strips to make it interactive and communicative such that the facade responds to stimuli from its surroundings and invites the population of São Paulo to consider their own behavior. Sound and air quality are key data for the quality of urban landscapes in large cities. This light installation provokes and invites reflection.
The interactive facade of the Hotel WZ Jardins reveals a future where buildings become hybrids of the real and virtual. From here on, we not only create architecture with physical matter, but also with digital. Sensors and actuators integrate with brick, glass and concrete.
Much like other Brazilian cities, São Paulo has dull, gray, standardized architecture with aesthetics defined by developers and builders that hold little architectural value. Of course we also have significant works, including the classics located in the city's historic center, such as the Martinelli building, and the modern examples of Rino Levi and Artacho Jurado in Higienópolis, and contemporary experiments in Vila Madalena. Unfortunately, there are few works of note, and their numbers reduce to zero as you travel toward the city limits.
I'm obsessed with the idea that we can change this reality, hack existing buildings, stimulate a new urban identity, raise self-esteem, improve the quality of life, and promote innovation and sustainability at feasible costs. São Paulo can be an international example of what I call Hacked Architecture, made simply with collective participation and changing in real-time. How? With physical stimuli applying art on walls, or with graffiti and vertical gardens, or with plug-in balconies and structures that collect rainwater or solar energy. With connecting low energy LED lighting systems and what fascinates me: interactive facades that respond to stimuli through sensors for noise, air quality and temperature, or that register energy consumption, or reflect mood or behavior via information collected online and through social networks.
This new hybrid and interactive architecture adds poetic layers to our daily urban life.
“Hacker” describes a person who subverts, manipulates modifies or circumvents computer systems using their creativity and expertise. Improvised, collaborative and freely shared work is common in hacker culture. Often, hackers are activists with strong ideologies that favor privacy and a free internet. Hackers are, above all, great innovators.
- Design: Estudio Guto Requena
- Concept: Guto Requena
- Team Estudio Guto Requena: Julio Radesca, Lucas Ciciliato, Paulo de Camargo, Vitor Reis
- Interactive facade development and mobile app: Ydreams
- Lighting: New Energy
- Client: WZarzur
- Location: Avenida Rebouças n. 955, São Paulo, Brazil
- Design: 2013
- Execution: 2013/2014
- Completion: January, 2015