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Artistic Ornamental Granulated Light and Media Facade | realities:united

December 1, 2009

the CMesh façade has been developed in a close collaboration between WOHA architects (Singapore), in charge of the general architecture of the ILUMA complex and realities:united (Berlin) in charge of the general concept of the media installation, the design of the ‘crystal’ façade element system and the concept of the authoring/operating software.

In various ways this concept blurs boundaries as it actively merges the concept of a media screen with an ornamental architectural screen filtering air and light and as it blends abstract futuristic shapes with a 1970’s Vegas style.

Crystal Mesh forms the building’s visual facade; the construction-physical functions are carried out by another exterior wall deeper inside.

It consists of a tessellated pattern made of 3,000 modules of deep-drawn polycarbonate covering a façade area of more than 5,000 m2. About 1,900 of these modules contain a regular matrix of compact fluorescent light tubes forming “active patches” within the façade. At night the light matrix superimposes the idiosyncratic physical structure of the white, crystalline daytime façade. But the irregular arrangement of these patches – dividing the façade into areas with different resolutions – does not create a large, homogeneous screen in front of the building, but instead forms a more general impression of the building’s “medianess” as an addition to and an essential ingredient of its architecture.

Conceptually, Crystal Mesh is the agglomeration of different influences. Its function and design recall historical ventilation façades, the modular façade designs of the 1960s and 1970s, and the analog light-bulb aesthetic in the entertainment districts of the 20th century. At the same time, it also contains the “futuristic” concept of the monitor as complete substitute for the conventional façade construction: the façade as digital medium. These divergent themes have been put together in a formal design system – not in hegemonic addition, but as a mutual interpenetration, overlaying, and masking, which leads in detail to substantial interference between individual aspects.

The original idea of the commission – the façade as monitor – is simultaneously realized and obstructed by the modular and crystalline façade system. The large-format structure of the polycarbonate crystals can depict only 75 percent of the underlying matrix; the “monitor” is thus “perforated”. In addition, the surface of each individual “pixel” is distorted by the modules’ idiosyncratic geometry.

CMesh rejects the formula of “media architecture” as an addition of a conventional building plus a conventional TV screen, which often results in the replacement of architecture by digital signage.

The work is centered on the exploration of scale, composition, structure, integration (in architecture, in surrounding conditions etc), content and other key questions in regard to large scale media elements in architecture and urbanism. It aims to integrate various new (inevitable) dynamic elements in architecture by connecting them with and by founding them in architectural traditions. The research aims to prepare the next stage for the development of architecture as a dynamic rather than static discipline, where dynamic media and architectural qualities do not contradict but augment each other.

Year Start: 2009
Status: in realization
Timeframe: permanent
Location: Victoria Street (Lot 976a), Singapore, Singapore

Work Performed: Artistic Concept, Technical Concept, Design, Planning, Realization/ Supervision

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 10:57 am

    I absolutely love these dynamic façades. I’d really like more architects and planners to adopt this style of build. The work of realities:united has always impressed me.

    Great article.

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