Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Animated Architecture

The Media Architecture Awards are handed out to outstanding projects at the intersection of architecture, urban design and planning, media, art and interaction design. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on July 2 (15:00-16:15 (CEST). The award ceremony will be live-streamed. In the coming weeks, the three nominations for each of the five categories will be revealed here on ArchDaily.

Animated Architecture 

This category features projects demonstrating creative media façade designs. Façades of buildings are increasingly animated by integrated light sources. Designers are increasingly focusing on the perception of the building, searching for designs that add layers of meaning and/or bring out new experiences of the building itself, the broader site, and its surrounding public space.

“This years submissions make it very clear that the use of media is becoming more and more diverse. Projects use screens, integrated lights, sensors and innovative use of non-architectural materials such as e-paper or soundscapes. Some projects use three or even more of these different media”, reflects Ava Fatah gen. Schieck, jury member in the category Animated Architecture and Associate Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.

Another striking trend is that the media is more and more integrated in the architecture. “We hardly saw any screens on building anymore.” Furthermore, these media installations are getting more and more interactive. “With sensors, IoT applications or augmented layers the audience can actively engage with both the architecture as well as the information that is being visualized. This way media architecture adds behavioral qualities to the public domain.”


The Digital Bricks

Project artist: Science Gallery Melbourne, Arup

Architecture: Woods Bagot

The Digital Bricks at Science Gallery Melbourne integrates artwork with an existing building and an innovative display of cultural artefacts into a new form of architecture. The installation consists of 226 polished glass bricks, each illuminated by a bespoke rear-mounted high-definition LED screen in a custom-fabricated enclosure. The polished and translucent glass bricks are integrated within the building’s clay brick ground floor structure. Each glass brick sits in front of a small, high-brightness and high-resolution LED screen. Shown are historic images of the gradual transitions from pre-colonial knowledge to Western colonisation and occupation of the ‘traditional lands’ in Australia. The story honors Aboriginal women’s contributions to the health system, including at The Royal Women’s Hospital which formerly occupied this site. Because of the intense luminance level, the installation is viewable both during the daytime and at night. Light sensors external to the installation allow for real-time adjustments of screen luminance in response to ambient light levels. By mixing technology with a poetic approach of architecture and historical artefacts The Digital Brick materializes the proverb “if these walls could talk”. And thus offers a speculative outlook onto a future era of digitally augmented architecture. 

 Ava Fatah gen. Schieck: “First of all, integrating media into glass bricks is technically very challenging. The way sensitive LED screen fits exactly into glass bricks that are handcrafted in Venice sets a new standard. But making it is just one thing. The way they foresaw the sublime working of the technology is even more challenging. The media experience is very poetic and on top of that site specific. It offers a window on the past. Even when the media is off, the glass bricks add a special quality to the architecture.”

DAZZLE | San Diego International Airport

Project artist: Nik Hafermaas, Dan Goods, David Delgado, Jeano Erforth

Architecture: San Diego International Airport 

During WWI in the waters near San Diego an artistic but effective new way camouflage was introduced on navy vessels. This ‘dazzle camouflage’ was a painting of abstract geometrical shapes and angles; a phenomenon also to be seen in nature with zebras and some wild cats. A century later this camouflage was the source of inspiration for DAZZLE, a half kilometer long artistic façade of the San Diego airport rental car center. With over 2000 tiles of a revolutionary material (like the technology found in handheld e-readers) adapted for an architectural scale, it brings the façade of the car rental building of San Diego Airport to life. The e-paper tiles are articulated in a parallelogram shape and arranged in algorithmic distances to each other, to create an overall dynamic visual effect, even when the pixels are still. The graphic patterns are animated by a library of short loops evoking water ripples, moving traffic, dancing snowflakes to shifting geometries. Many of these animations are generated from particle animations, others are derived from actual footage like Eadweard Muybridge’s galloping horse from 1878, which was the first film ever produced. 

 Ava Fatah gen. Schieck: “Just by its sheer size this project is… dazzling! But also, the use of e-paper as an architectural material is groundbreaking. The result is an artwork with a strong visual impact that at the same time is still sensible. The dazzle effect is created only by movement and not coloring or other over-the-top effects. People recognize it and engage with it on an intuitive level that transcends the spectacular.” 

Window into the Seas

Project artist: Xenorama – Marcel Bückner | Tim Heinze | Richard Oeckel | Lorenz Potthast | Moritz Richartz

Architecture: German Maritime Museum, architect Dietrich Bangert

For the German Maritime Museum in the harbour city Bremen, a lightwork was installed on the entire building façade. The 75 meters wide and 6,3 meters high media facade is made of three elements: 98 individually controllable LEDs, projectors and speakers. The LED bars are installed on the building above and below the window front. During the day it is barely visible, in the evening it unfolds its full splendor by generating both static projection and pulsating and moving lights in an infinite number of colors. These translate the rhythm of the tides into a choreography of light. But the colorful visualization also provides a stage for all sorts of maritime themes, such as waves and the sea surface, people, climate and weather phenomena such as the borealis or even a thunderstorm. This way a static museum is transformed into a ship-sized landmark made of light that literally frames an immersive cutout of all ocean life. The project provides a stage for content-driven shows that connect the museum’s interior exhibition space with its surrounding public space – even after closing hours. 

Ava Fatah gen. Schieck: “In this projects many different types of media are integrated; colored lights, projections and a soundscape, all interactive by the use of smart sensors. The way the existing architecture is used is also very refined. The frame around the glass façade gives the entire building a sense of a diorama. This dramatic effect is amplified by the coloring of the frame. Making the sum of all these different correct is extremely difficult.” 

The MAB Awards are part of the Media Architecture Biennale 20 – MAB20. This edition will be online-only with debates, symposia, workshops, exhibitions and more. With the theme Futures Implied, MAB20 will focus on media architecture that moves beyond the mere spectacular; as well as beyond the design of individualized services comforting human customers.

Therefore, the MAB20 Program will take place online:

  • Workshops  |  June 24th – 29th  |  via Zoom

  • Online Conference  |  June 30th – July 2nd  |  via virtual conference platform

To register for MAB20, click here.
For more information visit:

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Cite: Jeroen Junte. "Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Animated Architecture" 12 Jun 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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