Project team:

Client: Junta de Andalucia en Córdoba (concept development & design) / Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (planning, artistic site super-vision) / FCC Construccion S.A. (software)
Architects: Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (architecture & project partnership), FCC Construccion S.A. (general contractor), Iluminación Lledó S.A. (construction of lighting facade system), Marie Banâtre, Johann Christoph Bätz, Jan Edler, Tim Edler, Christoph von Mach, Daniel Mock, Malte Niedringhaus, Ulrich Pohl, Christian Riekoff, Stefan Tietke, Christoph Wagner, Markus Wiedauer
Lighting design: realities : united – studio for art, architecture and technology;

12. Jul 2017

Media facade beyond the norm: the C3A Contemporary Arts Centre in Córdoba/ES.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: Roland-Halbe, Markus Koob, realities : united

The displays that surround us every day of our lives with the goal of entertaining us constantly in as fascinating a way as possible – flashy, colourful, loud, soft, short, long, hugely important or totally trivial – are becoming increasingly larger, more advanced, in increasingly higher resolution, and more engagingly interactive. Commercial companies vying for attention in all sectors, and potential customers craving to acquire the latest products on the market. But why not take a step back? Why not adopt a different, more minimalist approach – and cause even more of a stir? Media displays in the 21st century can be as out of the ordinary as they come, and yet still be visually stimulating. The C3A Contemporary Arts Centre in Córdoba/ES is an experience in its own league in this regard.

Forget super ultra-high resolution, forget umpteen thousand densely packed pixels, forget practically endless series of datasets, or any strict patterns or grids – the C3A “display” is a very different story from its super high-tech relations in the form of smartphones, tablets, laptops or TVs. It does not burden us with light with a high blue content, is not switched on round the clock to provide us with something amusing to while away the time with, does not need to be protected against sunlight, and above all it is unassuming. Admittedly, we are not talking about a display in the classic sense, but rather about a light and media installation incorporated into the outer facade of the building. In spite of its otherness quality, the facade is based on an ingenious design concept which was developed as the result of close and highly effective collaboration between the architects and a team of artists and media architecture designers.

The starting point for the media facade was an analysis of the significant inner structure of the building, which comprises a tessellated (mosaiclike) pattern of polygonal rooms. The interior walls are made of heavy concrete, which in turn further outlines the edges and the spatial layout; in contrast, some sections of wall have received light-coloured wood cladding and glass to allow light to penetrate the interior spaces. The architectural forms pull the ceiling down, generating – on the outside of the building, and at least visible from above – a series of “bowls”. It is these very bowl shapes that give rise to the individual “pixels” that are scattered across the outer facade. The unique architecture accommodates a centre for media arts as well as a museum, a place where art can be shared, felt and experienced, where people come together, talk and discuss, learn, and educate and inform themselves – an ideal place, therefore, to install such a media facade for people to witness and enjoy.

The hexagonal, pre-fabricated “bowls” are distributed over the 100-metre long facade in an irregular pattern. Each of the 1319 different-sized bowls serves as a reflector for an integrated tunable-white LED light source. By controlling the intensity of each light source individually, the bowls turn the facade into the envisioned monumental low-resolution grey scale display. In comparison to high-tech screens, the distribution of the bowl-pixels does not appear to be regular, and yet the observer experiences the media facade as unusually aesthetic. The number of bowls, the way each one is aligned, from which angle they are illuminated or how they fit into the seemingly random pattern on the facade, has all literally been decided by design. The overall surface is divided into sections, in which the application of specific “pixels”, how they are arranged and relate to one another, and the distribution density have all been precisely defined.

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 105 as well as in our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store).


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