Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Spatial Media Art

Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Spatial Media Art

The Media Architecture Awards are handed out to the best projects in the integration of displays, interactive installations and other media into architectural structures, such as facades and urban screens. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on July 2 (15:30-16:30 CEST). The award ceremony will be live-streamed. In the coming weeks, the three nominations in each of the five categories will be revealed here on ArchDaily.

Spatial Media Art

This category features projects produced in an artistic context at the intersection of architecture and media art. Installations with an innovative form of spatial interaction and/or perception of space. The nominated projects experiment with new media materials and spatial experiences, add layered symbolic meanings to places or activate public spaces in innovative and artistic ways.

“Spatial Media Architecture is the biggest category”, says jury member Frank Suurenbroek, a professor Spatial Urban Transformation at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands. Although the overall quality was high, there are also so extreme differences in approach and technicality. “Among the submissions were autonomous projects from individual artists as well as costly commissions from corporations, executed by multidisciplinary design studio. But all submissions have a strong sense of place. They enlarge the existing architecture or provide an anonymous place with a unique atmosphere and character.”

A strong trend among the submissions is a manifestation of the omnipresence of media in our living environment. “With a clever use of diverse media, the nominated projects show us that data are an inseparable part of our daily and built environment. They not only use media but also make us aware of the medialization of public space. That gives these projects a strong sense of urgency”, explains Suurenbroek. Furthermore, nature was a dominant theme. “As if these media installations want to counterbalance to dominance of digital technology in our lives.”



Project artist: Studio Roosegaarde

Every year on the 4th and 5th may the Netherlands remembers the 104 thousand Dutch Holocaust victims of WWII. For the 75th anniversary of this remembrance Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde developed the innovative Holocaust monument LEVENSLICHT. It consists of 104 thousand luminescent stones and encourages participation across 170 municipalities. It is inspired on the Jewish custom to place stones to honour the deceased, not flowers. By using invisible ultraviolet light, the specially developed stones with fluorescent pigments can light up every few seconds, like a breath of light. The complete LEVENSLICHT was exhibited in Rotterdam, lighting up the banks of the river Maas. After that the 104 thousand luminescent stones were shared among the participating municipalities. This way, LEVENSLICHT is not only remembrance of emotional stories but also an activator, to stress the importance of freedom in the future. 

Jury member Frank Suurenbroek: “A loaded topic – the remembrance of the Dutch Holocaust victims – is presented in a subtle and at the same time vehement way by artist Daan Roosegaarde. The sheer number of victims is made literally visible in the countless number of corresponding stones. This way a tragedy of more than 70 years ago is made palpable for younger generations. Yes, the project was executed with a big team and sufficient budget. But it was perfectly executed down to the smallest detail, as it should be with such a delicate subject. The creative thinker Roosegaarde realized an innovative landscape for the future by telling a wordless but emotionally charged stories.”

Variegation Index

Project artist: Jason Bruges Studio

The artwork Variegation Index measures live photosynthesis activity and translates this biological data into an artistic media canvas. Patterns of light and numbers signify the transfer of energy and nutrients through the leaves of plants. A vivid, fast display in bright daylight is contrasted with a dim, slower modulation during grey spells and night-time. Viewing the artwork from an oblique angle, a numerical reading from 1 to 9 is also visible within each cell indicating the rate of photosynthesis activity that is occurring in real-time. Variegation Index was placed in the lobby of the non-profit organization British Land, and this way disrupts the boundary between public space and private space to establish a more welcoming environment. At the same time Variegation Index represents artist Jason Bruges’ interest in the dichotomous relationship between urban life and the natural world. It is an exploration of the link between technology, nature and wellbeing and making the invisible life strings of plants visible and so reconnecting us with nature.

Jury member Frank Suurenbroek: “The nature preservation organization British Land is housed in the middle of London. With this sensible installation the connection of visitors with nature is restored. The data is shown real time and this way it emphasizes the healing and restoring power of nature. It shows us nature but, in a scale, and in a way, you have probably never seen it before. Because of this ambiguity, it also functions as a discussion piece: how far do we want to take the digitalization and technocratization of nature and agriculture?”

Wervel [Turmoil]

Project artist: Nicky Assmann 

Architecture: Forum Groningen, NL Architects

Wervel [Turmoil] is an ingenious 20-metre-long, double-sided video led-sculpture flowing through the center of the Forum Groningen, a colossal new cultural center in the middle of the Dutch city Groningen. The media installation by Dutch artist Nicky Assmann is inspired on the qualities of a tornado and a representation of turbulence. At the same time the interactive sculpture follows the flow of the architecture of Forum Groningen. The colorful display of the LED-surface consists of 22 unique and craftfully composed videos that originate from natural phenomena such as turbulence or fluid dynamics and the scientific processes behind them. Associations while watching the colorful sequence can be fire tornadoes that are fueled by forest fires, the turbulent patterns seen in solar storms in the atmosphere of Jupiter or the chaotic flow patterns of microbes. By zooming in and out and by contrasting the micro, macro and cosmic, Wervel [Turmoil] offers a specular showcase that also enlarges the existing architecture.

Jury member Frank Suurenbroek: “Forum Groningen is a huge but very refined architectural structure. It’s an imposing man-made creation. When you are inside, you are out of the city. You lose all contact with the outside world. With the art piece Turmoil, the primal forces of nature are reintegrated in the architecture. It confronts us with phenomena that are bigger and more powerful than men. It reinforces and simultaneously puts the protective function of architecture in perspective. It can therefore be seen as a comment on the ‘rewilding discussion’. Should we have wolves in Europe? Should rivers be allowed to overflow their banks? But let’s not forget, is also a very beautiful art piece!”

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: Spatial Media Art" 14 Jun 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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