Though it was once an essential element of all classical structures, the frieze has largely been left behind by architects looking for contemporary façade systems. But at the recently-opened addition to the Kunstmuseum Basel, designed by Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein in collaboration with design group iart, the frieze returns with an eye-catching, technological twist, as hidden pixels within the facade light up to display moving images and text to those below. The new frieze is surprising in that it is constructed of the same material as the rest of the museum’s façade, 8-centimeter-tall gray bricks that the designers say “exude the timeless and archaic air of an ancient ruin.” But in the frieze, a custom-developed concave groove has been cut from the bottom of each brick. When daylight passes over the frieze, it casts a shadow into the grooves, making them appear darker than the surrounding façade.
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