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Communicating Through Architecture febrero 23, 2010

Posted by christian saucedo in Articles.

Communicating Through Architecture: Media Facades and the Digital Infrastructure


In Times Square, 1996, the first media facade is erected. At 1,000 square feet the screen now pales in comparison to the likes of those found in Seoul, Tokyo and even newer construction in Times Square. This technology, once limited to the United States, can now be found in nearly every metropolitan area worldwide and has become a symbol of a country’s power or a company’s position in their industry. While media facades are the billboards of the digital infrastructure, the layer extends so much deeper reaching into nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The proliferation of media facades, similar to that of cellular phones, PDAs, Bluetooth technology, laptop computers, and GPS technology is often dismissed or simply goes unnoticed, yet these devices allow instantaneous connection and relay of information with other people almost anywhere in the world. This is a feat found only in science fiction just 25 years ago. As the world becomes more and more connected, questions about sense of place and “here” are raised. Issues of this nature add additional challenges to the architect’s burden of creating powerful, place-specific architecture.

Architects and designers in the first half of the twentieth century were frequently, and often bitterly, at odds with how to handle the explosion of mechanized technology in the architectural landscape, debating whether the machine was a blessing or a curse when used in sterile, inhuman situations. The unnaturally perfected products of machines have, as predicted, come to dominate our consumer goods over those produced by hand in the last century. Now that the analog nature of machinery has cemented its importance in our cultures, we humans have turned over yet another new leaf in the creation of digital technology. Even more quickly than the spread of the machine a century ago, digital technologies have invaded our lives in the last decade thus creating an inter-connectivity never before seen. It’s an interconnected global community that places family members thousands of miles away within closer reach than next-door neighbors. Media is increasingly brought to our homes through Internet and HD television, replacing newspapers and magazines. The digitized and animated presentations in these new methods of conveying information exploits the natural human instincts that draw one to motion and interaction. Increasingly this is accomplished through public media facades in urban areas.

The digitization of information creates a potentially seamless dissemination of information in urban areas where watchful passersby are present twenty-four hours a day. The most densely populated areas in cities harbor the highest potential for testing new technologies because public opinion is easily corralled with such high exposure. Animated media facades are the newest, largest form of communication to be implemented in urban centers. The facades, often applied to existing buildings but increasingly integrated into new building design, provide architects, designers, advertisers and civic institutions with space to convey their given messages in the heavily traversed plazas and intersections of the world’s increasingly dense urban centers.

The dissemination of information has not, however, been the singular function behind media architecture. Digital infrastructure is progressively taking on an interactive role, providing both artists and pedestrians with an enormous public platform for self-expression. Whether in accordance with city planning or using artistic guerilla tactics, these large-scale interactive displays are creating a new perception of architecture while challenging classical notions of the facade. Whether playing host to a net of 10,000 LEDs or providing an eight-story backdrop to a powerful digital projection, even century old facades are being reused and redefined.

Copyright ©2008, The rathaus

Communicating Through Architecture by s.a.johnson
The Rathaus, Communicating Through Architecture: Media Facades and the Digital Infrastructure

cómo citar: JOHNSON, s.a, The Rathaus, Communicating Through Architecture: Media Facades and the Digital Infrastructure, (October 2008), URL: http://rathausartprojects.com/blog/2008/10/15/communicating-through-architecture/



1. Patricia Vázquez Langle - febrero 23, 2010

Seria un blog muy completo si es bilingüe, siempre es bueno estar al corriente sobre Media Facades and the Digital Infrastructure.

christian saucedo - febrero 23, 2010

seguimos trabajando en ello! 🙂


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