Archigram Archival Project

“The Archigram Archival Project makes the work of the seminal architectural group Archigram available free online for public viewing and academic study. The project was run by EXP, an architectural research group at the University of Westminster. It was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and made possible by the members of Archigram and their heirs, who retain copyright of all images.”

Posted via web from Expanded Memory

Digital Water Pavillon

DWP Day two-008998

© Digital Water Pavillon at http://www.dwp.qaop.net

The Digital Water Pavillon has been designed and built for the Expo in Zaragoza 2008 as a tourit office and information point for the Digital Mile project. Its facade is made of a digitally controlled water curtain, acting as a permeable division between outside and inside.

It contains over three thousand digitally-operated solenoid valves, twelve hydraulic pistons, several dozen oil and water pumps, a camera-operated control system, a good deal of controlling software, and many other components.

DWP day tre-009110

© Digital Water Pavillon

The building itself seems like a kinetic object, sensing and reacting to the nearby environment and able to transform not only its wet surface, but also its shape according to the current usage. It is becoming a central point for retrieving information, but even more importantly for playful interaction, where people are enjoying themselves.

The Pavilion is down, in closed operational mode. The roof is on the ground, covered by a thin layer of water. Only two volumes in glass, containing the Digital Mile info point and the tourist office, project upwards. It is a new medium, and a rather exceptional one. It is made of thousands of closely spaced solenoid valves put in a row along a pipe suspended in the air. The valves can be opened and closed, at high frequency, via computerized controls. This produces a curtain of falling water with gaps at specified points – a pattern of pixels created from air and water instead of illuminated points on a screen.
The entire surface becomes a one-bit-deep digital display continuously scrolling downwards. Something like an inkjet printer on a huge scale. So, how to make really fluid, reconfigurable architecture? Our building aims to stand as a possible answer to that endeavor. Fluid in the literal sense of the word. But also fluid as a reconfigurable, responsive building. The difference between wall and door can disappear. Facades can become a continuous medium that open and close interactively. The water itself is dynamic: it can display graphics, patterns and text. But, most importantly, it can almost become alive with patterns that are generated in real time, replicated from one point to another and which respond to the nearby environment. The presence of people can be sensed by the DWP and this plays an important role in the dynamic process, allowing waves and other distortions to be generated.

DWP day tre-009077

© Digital Water Pavillon

Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT, describes the project in his talk at LIFT Conference (towards the end, around 17min 50 sec):

Carlo Ratti “The Sensable City” (Lift09 EN) from Lift Conference on Vimeo.

Project partners included:

Media Facades Festival Berlin 2008

source: mediaarchitecture.org

source: mediaarchitecture.org

Last weekend I have been lucky to attend the Media Facades Festival in Berlin. For the second time, after last years take-off as Media Architecture Conference at the CSM Innovation Center in London, organizers and curators Susa Pop, Mirjam Struppek, Gernot Tscherteu and Oliver Schürer managed to gather a quite illustre and international crowd of theoreticians, practitioners, manufacturers as well as outstanding projects in the field of contemporary urban digital display, this time at the Deutsches Architekturzentrum in Berlin. The Festival combines life screenings, an exhibition and a conference, and is one of the rare occasions to meet many of the internationally active key figures in this relatively young field of mediated urban space.

There’s a growing need for the research of different creative contents that are able to make these new media for urban space vivid and attractive. Creatives in the different areas of media and culture are confronted with entirely new challenges in respect to resolution and distribution of pixels; there are also new forms of interaction arising from the specific dimensions of size and distance that differ basically from classical media formats.

The content of media facades and digital moving Images in public spaces should not only be determined by market forces, yet should follow urban necessities. Therefore we aim to transform the growing number of digital architectural surfaces in our cities into experimental visual zone on the threshold of virtual and urban public space, contributing to a liveable urban society.

I only managed to attend day 2 of the conference, however the panel topics as well as the invited speakers (.pdf) promised to be very interesting: The day started off with project presentations by Marc Largent, Magic Monkey and Dr. Hank Häusler, SIAL, RMIT Melbourne;

Grand Lisboa Casino by Magic Monkey. Image © cnmark (Flickr)

Grand Lisboa Casino by Magic Monkey. Image © cnmark (Flickr)

Hank Häussler

Hank Häussler

Next, leading managers of Arup Lighting Europe/Worldwide, Rogier van der Heide, Rudi Scheuermann and Andrew Hall joined the presenters to engage the panel and audience in a discussion about light as a space-defining means in architecture, the role of communication, context and dynamics in the planning process as well as sustainability issues raised in current debates about energy efficiency.

GreenPix: Zero Energy Wall, Bejing

Arup Lighting: GreenPix. Zero Energy Wall, Bejing

Although this part of the programme was quite successful in generating a vivid and open discussion, the lack of a specific focus of this particular “workshop” was a bit of a backdrop, resulting in a few quite general and superficial discussions about “interdisciplinarity”, the quest for relevant “content”/”social participation”, or “sustainability”. However, it surely brought up questions for later discussions at lunch.

The next panel, named “Perception and behavior – facing Urban Media” was hosted by Mirjam Struppek.

Urban scenarios are always part of an interactive as well as competitive process. Any medially enhanced urban environment will amplify these dynamics. Has the medial intensity reached the limits of human perceptive capacities? Is there an aesthetic answer? What is the position of art, how can art stand out against the glut of information in public space and not be perceived in terms of mere spectacle?

Daniel Michelis, a recent PhD graduate from UdK, Berlin presented quite an interesting insight into his research on human computer interaction within urban screened environments. His presentation on findings and some resulting methods for engaging with passer-bys can be found here. Next Ursula Stalder, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Luzern, talked about “Media@Work: Out of home displays”, showing some interesting examples of hyper-real spaces in art and commerce, such as a public staging of an operette in a commuter surrounding (La Traviata at Zurich main station), as well as debating aspects the representation of commercial values in contemporary car museums (Mercedes-Benz or BMW as hyper-real spaces). Odd Arne Blindheim, Director WideMediaGroup, Bergen gave a talk about responsibility in merging light, graphics and video in public spaces, e.g. regarding visual pollution or energy consumption. He had some interesting thoughts on what the effects might be for developing ambient visualisations “inspired by nature”, as well as how the urban planning process needs to be adapted to such possibilities. While he clearly sees current drivers of mediated architecture in advertising and art, he suggests that usage by security technology and public information systems will be highly important in the future.

After some more project presentations by Stefan Hofmann from LichtKunstLicht and Sakchin Bessette, Moment Factory – by the way really great work for the current 2008 NineInchNails Tour, the next panel, called “Dynamic Ornament- Towards a new Iconography?” was hosted by Dr. Oliver Schürer.

MomentFactory: Schematic visualisation for Perkins Rowe

MomentFactory: Schematic visualisation for Perkins Rowe

MomentFactory on the responsive large scale video installations for the 2008 NIN-Tour

What are the cultural signifiers that could generate new forms of digital urban content? AS a new mass medium, media facades could become more influential than radio, TV or the Internet. The potential of a specific iconography or of user interaction has not been discussed yet. What are the opportunities offered by light emitting or kinetic components? Why are traditional media formats being reproduced on media facades?

Christopher Bauder, WHITEvoid interactive art & design, showed some recent projects developed partly as concept, prototype and final artistic piece. He explained the development of the Flare Facade prototype, the Moving Wall project and a lounge object called Polygon Playground as an artistic art piece.

Christopher Bauder from WhiteVoid

Christopher Bauder from WhiteVoid

Dr. Andrea Gleiniger, ZHdK, ETH CAAD, titled her lecture “Architekturen des Augenblicks” after a term coined by Franz Hessel in the 1920s. She gave an overview on the notion of imagery in (public) space in a historc context, from Georg C. Lichtenberg (1775), Walter Benjamin, Lazlo Moholy Nagy, to Venturi/Scott-Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas, Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle and Toyo Ito’s 1986 “Tower of Winds“. She ended by questioning there is a new quality of simulation, namely the simulation of public through mediated architecture.

Dr. A. Gleiniger: Lewis Mumford

Dr. A. Gleiniger: Lewis Mumford

Prof. Christa Sommerer, Interfacedesign Universität für Gestaltung Linz, gave her own quick overview on the history of interactive art, in an architectural context, highlighting among others some of the works of christian möller or monika fleischmann and identifying an austrian predecessor of the better-known blinkenlights, called “Click-Scape“, developed already in 1998. Skipping through some of her earlier projects, such as “Growing interactive plants” (1992) and “Wissensgewächs”(2007), she presented her 2008 patented concept called Solar Display, a solar-powered architectural display, using solar cells as pixel elements and mechanical tilting of each solar-cell as a means to create light/dark contrasts and “greyscale”.

Aether Architecture

Aether Architecture

Adam Somlai-Fischer, Aether Architecture, had the unfortunate role of being the last presenter on a quite dense schedule of talks and presentations. However, in a charming and entertaining way, he visually explained some of the main aspects of his practice, using methods of hacking and low-fi technology application and presenting some examples of engagement and accessibility resulting from these aproaches. Adventurous architecture at its best.

Some more impressions from the conference can be found here.