Big city lights: The facade-displays

Source: the popular magazine “Membrane”

In the first part of the article Big city lights: Call the windows we described how the Californian Electroland firm brings more light into the life of townspeople. The company is not lonely in its battle with the grayness of megapolis life. Interactive light is a powerful weapon in this fight. Before describing other colleagues of the Californian craftsmen, let us look at one more project of Electroland.

It is called 11th & Flower. It is a plan for re-equipping one of Los Angeles public buildings. According to the concept it is similar to the interactive foot bridges of the Fort Lauderdale airport, which we described in the first part. This time Electroland planned to animate an entire building.

First, LED floor is intended to be build-in the entrance hall directly. Small red squares compose pixels, supplied with sensitive pressure sensors. Each person, who passes along this hall, will be accompanied by bright figure-illumination automatically; moreover it will be different for different people.

“Interactive” or “on-line” hall proposes the visitors to play a little Electroland project 11th & Flower
“Interactive” or “on-line” hall proposes the visitors, who are tired from the urban rhythm of life, to play a little
Photo credit: Electroland
Everything, that happens below, is reflected on the façade
Photo credit: Electroland

Someone may cross this area accompanied by a small cross, someone will be surrounded by a large square or a circle. The most curious thing is that this “tick-tack-toe” that is played by the visitors of building can be seen not only by the initiators of illumination, but also by people, who are nearby. The drafters converted the entire facade into a display which copies the figures of the floor lights but enlarged. Its response to the moves of people below is instantaneous.

Second, the designers proposed to arrange similar colorful installations inside buildings. They proposed to place projectors which give a demonstration of some living pictures on the floors and on the walls. The authors of the idea suggested that green LED carpet in the corridor can entertain visitors by the regularly changing pattern.

“Lifelike” or “Alive” LED carpet An additional version of a “lifelike” media façade
“Lifelike” or “Alive” LED carpet
Photo credit: Electroland
An additional version of a “lifelike” media façade of Electroland
Photo credit: Electroland
The largest in the world “Tetris” The largest in the world “Tetris” on the façade of a skyscraper
Photo credit: www.etv.tudelft.nl

Some live LED picture can be placed on the walls also. It is necessary to note, that Electroland is not the first group of designers who decided to convert the facades of buildings into the enormous displays. It is difficult to appoint the superiority of the designers in this sphere.

The student association ETV demonstrated the largest in the world “Tetris” on the façade of a 96 meter high skyscraper. Through the Internet people worldwide could play this largest “Tetris” game. The students of Delft Technological University, who created this installation, demonstrated the image of the façade photographed from the street.

The moving picture was created by standard room lights which were turned on and off by computer commands. The similar solutions were used in the beginning of 1990. But, alas, all these shows were temporary games. But making a façade a long time display is a rare thing...

A good example is a comparatively new project in Austrian Graz city. The local museum of Contemporary Art deserves a more detailed description. The designer project BIX is not a simple installation, but actually an integral part of the façade of the Arts museum Kunsthaus Graz. This façade is made from a combination of different acrylic glass panels (mostly dark). But the surface is not flat; it looks like a wavy side of some monster.

Media façade of the Arts museum Kunsthaus Graz A fragment of the museum Kunsthaus Graz media façade
You look at the building and the building looks at you
Photo credit: www.kunsthausgraz.at
A fragment of the museum Kunsthaus Graz media façade
Photo credit: www.kunsthausgraz.at

Nevertheless, the adventurous designers placed 930 fluorescent lamps (in spirals) on it. They connected them to a computer and thus they converted facade into a gigantic display (approximately 20 x 40 meters).

Power of each lamp is 40 Watts and diameter of each ring is 40 cm. The brightness of the lamps is regulated so that they can display a picture but the resolution is not very high. It possible to display video (frame rate is 18 frames per second). The museum of contemporary skill was opened in Graz only a year ago, and, of course, its living facade attracts the attention of people not less than its exhibit - pictures and sculptures. The facade-display itself has become an exhibit, which not only the visitors of museum could see. This building became one additional place on the planet where dull reality has become somewhat brighter because people smile when they look at it.

The building of ING-bank, Brussels The building of ING-bank, Brussels

The building of ING-bank, Brussels. 2000-2001. The colored illumination of window niches, controlled by a computer, converted its façade into a display, which is able to transfer not only photographs, but animation also.