Pixelated facades that interact with the city through lighting and digital systems are nothing new. One of the precursors to this trend was perhaps the gigantic Kunsthaus Graz, designed by Peter Cook, Colin Fournier, and their Spacelab team in Austria circa 2003.
Renamed by his creators The Friendly Alien, the biomorphic building took life in Graz old town with a matrix of 930 fluorescent lamps integrated into the eastern Plexiglas facade.
Since then, quirky systems have switched on lights from South Korea to Finland.
“Beyond shelter, architecture also implicates a cultural dimension, as a device for communicating social relationships – for example, a palace mediating between ruler and subjects, or a cathedral mediating between God and man,” asserts Matthew Claudel, a researcher at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, when talking about media architecture.
Perhaps the flickering facade of the Incineration Line in Roskilde, designed by Erick van Egeraat and inaugurated in September 2014, mediates between the incinerator’s bulky structure and a landscape defined by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cathedral.
Erick van Egeraat, 2007 RIBA Award-winner for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, has wrapped the imposing structure in a raw umber-coloured aluminium layer with an irregular pattern of laser cut circular holes, completely hiding organisation inside.
Winner of an international competition, the facade project has been commissioned in 2008 by local waste management company Kara/Noveren to shelter the 7,400m2 plant. The faceted skin of the double layers also responds to the technical requirements of openings for daylight, ventilation, and wind and water tightness. The Rotterdam-based office conceived the system in collaboration with the Danish lighting architect, Gunver Hansen.