Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Future Trends & Prototypes

Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Future Trends & Prototypes

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. The coming weeks the three nominations in each of the five categories will be revealed here, on ArchDaily.

Future Trends and Prototypes

This category features projects that shed light on what the future of media architecture might look like. This section covers special solutions like three-dimensional displays, kinetic façades, OLEDs, or robotic elements that experiment with new technologies, production methods, or ideas. Projects in this category can be both functional innovations and working prototypes as well as conceptual and speculative projects

“Media architecture is a relatively new discipline that has not yet fully crystalized. The category Future trends and Prototypes is therefore technically the most advanced category of these Awards”, says Filippo Lodi, jury member and associate director & senior architect at architectural studio UNStudio in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It is also one of the most diverse categories. “Some submissions manifest themselves in the realm of architectural planning and smart cities, while others are non-material or only visible as digital media. The approach could be hands-on with a real prototype as outcome or very research-driven and academic, with a more speculative intention. But one thing we did not see was screens.”

The criteria used by this jury was that the submitted projects push the field of media architecture ahead. Lodi: “Also, all the nominations have positive or even hopeful qualities. We looked for opportunities and possibilities, not problems and obstacles.” Another focus of the jury was on the human aspect of media architecture. “How can it feed our emotions and influence our behaviour. Media is after all not just information but also an agent for connection.”



Project artist: Marius Hoggenmueller, Luke Hespanhol, Martin Tomitsch (in collaboration with Design Lab, The University of Sydney)

What if robots are used in a playful way so more engaging, creative, and playful public spaces in our cities can be realized? Woodie is a friendly slow-moving urban robot that draws on the ground using luminescent sidewalk chalk. The area in which the robot wanders around is illuminated with ultraviolet lights. By producing simple line drawings, Woodie turns the surrounding public space into a large horizontal canvas made of glowing words and drawings. Through its iconic, luminous shell, Woodie attracts passers-by to stop and contemplate, and invites them to draw with it and with other people. Woodie was a temporary speculative installation designed by Marius Hoggenmueller, Luke Hespanhol and Martin Tomitsch for Vivid Sydney - festival of light, music and ideas. The idea is compelling and even practical as it explores new forms of pervasive urban displays and interrogates the role of urban robots in social spaces. Research has shown that conventional public displays in cities are often ignored by people due to the oversaturation of digital screens in our lives.  Woodie successfully explores the potential of robots to trigger urban reflection by inviting passersby to slow down. while at the same time triggering collaborative, creative placemaking. 

Jury member Filippo Lodi: “This is a very academic social robotics project executed by a university. At the same time is so much fun with those blinking lights and friendly shape. It encourages a playful interaction between men and robots, and also, between people. The scale of the robot is small and comprehensible, but the technology is scalable. Just imagining bigger robots roaming the streets at night cleaning of decorating our cities. It touches upon the heated debate on robots in the public realm and adds an optimistic note by showing the possibility of a better public domain. Just what we need in these Covid-times.”

Novartis Pavillon

Project artist: iart

Architecture: Novartis Pharma AG, AMDL CIRCLE & Blaser Architekten


To mark its 25th anniversary the pharmaceutical company Novartis created a pavilion near its Basel headquarters to be dedicated to shared learning, science, and the future of health care. The façade of this building is a colourful media installation that also generates its own electricity. It consists of a network of translucent cells that are equipped with organic solar panels and LED elements. Each solar cell facing outwards is equipped with two LED modules. The modules are bi-directional in the sense that there is one LED unit pointing away from the facade and one pointing onto the facade. Since the organic solar cells are translucent, the light shines through them. During daytime, the facade uses the direct light emitted by the forward-facing LEDs, while at nighttime, it is illuminated by indirect light. The showreel can be words and messages as well as abstract figurations in different colours. This way the facade arouses curiosity and interest, and thus, symbolically conveys the building's basic idea of promoting dialogue and openness.

Jury member Filippo Lodi: “In this project two existing technologies – LED lights and solar panels – are combined in a completely innovative way, and thus introducing a new technology. That is what makes this such a good prototype. And a light source that at the same time is generating electricity is what media architecture has been waiting for, because of the enduring critique on the energy consumption of all the lights and screens on buildings. The project has also a good focus. The architecture – almost a classic pavilion – is not distracting of the innovative technology. I am sure that we will see this technology popping up in all sorts of variations in the coming years.”

Uptown Underground

Project Artist: Ian Callender

With this artistic project a movie is projected on the ceiling of a New York subway train. The moving images are of New York buildings as seen from below on the street and correspond with the actual location of the train. It is like a glass bottom boat, but than upside down and of an urban environment. This high-tech and geographically accurate view of the cityscape above a moving subway train is implemented with four connected and synchronized projectors that are informed by geolocation and acceleration data from a cellphone – all on battery power. Just imagine what could be possible if tech companies, like Google, start pumping in millions of dollars to refine this technology and start reconnecting us with the while travelling underground? But the credits of this groundbreaking concept will forever go to artist Ian Callender. 

Jury member Filippo Lodi: “The idea of screening the outside in an enclosed environment is not new. On renderings of the Hyperloop of four, almost five years ago you can see already a screened ceiling that shows images of the outside. But this guy actually realized it! This is what prototyping is all about: showing us that something is possible, even in a very low-tech way. The augmented interior is here, and you can experience it not in a restricted laboratory but while going home on a New York subway. It won’t take long before this becomes a trend.”

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.
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Cite: Jeroen Junte. "Nominations for the Media Architecture Awards: Future Trends & Prototypes" 16 Jun 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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