The Media Space: Evolving Media Architecture and Its Legend

This panel aims to raise questions such as: What is the importance of media architecture in the evolution of landmarks and city development? Does media architecture create a new way of social interaction in the public space? Are media architecture projectsgraspable and legible by the public without a legend? With indefinite boundaries in question, how can media architecture develop into media space?
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Mahir M. Yavuz
Christoph Kronhagel
Eckehart Loidolt
William Joseph Carpenter
Christoph Kronhagel
Eckehart Loidolt
Professor William Joseph Carpenter FAIA, PhD

Chair: Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth-Fohringer
2nd Chair: Mahir M .Yavuz

Throughout human history, architecture played a key role in terms of communication in the public domain. In addition to the established institutionalized architectural communication (governmental buildings, palaces, banks, schools, etc.), a new field of adaptive communication based on presence, intent and ownership is emerging. Discoveries in the field of media technology constitute the driving force in this evolutionary progress.

Media, by all means, is extending its active fields and is creating a convergence between psychical and virtual spaces. Cities are in a rapid evolution age: façades are changing, architecture is developing more into the digital domain and social interaction of inhabitants is becoming much more mediated. How are all of these changes affecting our daily life? It is seen that media architecture has already become a key research topic at the intersection of many different fields such as urbanism, architecture, material sciences and sociology.

There is a large spectrum of interesting topics to discuss within this new field ranging from content to audience and from new models of interaction to materialized media. With the contribution of practical researchers working in diverse fields and coming from different countries, this panel aims to raise questions such as: What is the importance of media architecture in the evolution of landmarks and city development? Does media architecture create a new way of social interaction in the public space? Are media architecture projectsgraspable and legible by the public without a legend? With indefinite boundaries in question, how can media architecture develop into media space?

Paper Abstracts

The media façade as paradigm change of the public space

by Christoph Kronhagel

The ideology of modernity has devoted a high importance to the public space. The democratic conditions were intended to manifest themselves there and support the free communication between people. The ideology was dealing with flowing spaces that created no barriers; it was dealing with the construction of spaces that were not repelling or intimidating by representative constructions. This evolved to the idea of transparency, the minimisation of all constructions, the concentration on the essentials.

What has become of it?
The idea of transparency has led to the rapid development  of the glass technology in recent years. Result: All-glass façades, which increase the quality of the inner space by their transparency, however only contribute to a minor degree to the outer insight into the relations of the social system within the inner part of the buildings, because most views are blocked by reflections. And another question is: What can we see inside? Does that inside view help us to understand the social system behind the façade?

The minimisation of the construction was adapted with enthusiasm by the construction industry. With respect to this parameter, everything was allowed to be optimized.

Result: There are hardly any regional differences in architecture; the architecture became globalized. Often, the anonymity of the remaining public spaces obstructs processes that promote communication.

Many architects have created important building art by the concentration on the essential. However, also merely profit-driven companies relate to the concept and justify the simplicity of their buildings in public by the concentration on the essential.

Result: Many buildings are so characterless that the cities suffer from a large inhospitality – they just do not offer any sensory stimuli for the eyes to focus on.

The idea of the public space is therefore facing hard times. However, it is very obvious that people have a large need for community and exchange. Otherwise the unbelievable success of the “social media” can hardly be explained. Now many individuals in our society are totally irritated due to the existence of real transparent relations. It is hardly possible to hide something. Especially the old representatives of the modern ideology regard it as a violation of their private affairs. But what is private and what is public? A difficult discussion that is still ongoing.

But the new spaces have clearly been provoked by the media. These spaces are much closer to the original idea of modernity than the contemporary architecture itself. However, these spaces prevent us from real encounters because they are anchored only virtually. In the moment where these virtual spaces receive interfaces in physical spaces, the urban space becomes charged with social competence – I call  it the “Mediatecture”.

The media-tectonic  instrument in the public space is the media façade. Worldwide there are many examples of media façades.  However, in the sense of the public space as a room with social interaction, only a few have been created. There are many examples of artistic façades, which represent a symbol for the medial acting society through the digital application of medial technology. In most  cases  the medial illustration is more or less abstract and supported by curators of medial art or is funded by companies as a symbol of their innovative spirit. However, there are only a few examples of media façades which really are based on social processes.

Why is that?

An important reason is the paradigm change that is induced by the media façade for those responsible for municipal planning developments.  Now, virtual and urban spaces become mixed and that questions the ideology of the concentration on the essential  in architecture. Digital art is just acceptable, it can be considered as constructional art. But a media façade, which can create the whole range of digital applications with its full video performance, is very concerning for the building department heads. And this is understandable, because the building department head has only few options to control the concept of medial content production. There is an urgent need to construct medial design statutes, which regulate carefully and in individual accordance with the neighbourhood the communicational aims of such media façades. This is particularly important because media façades  are relatively expensive. Such projects are therefore expected to succeed only if they follow a business model that allows the operator revenue through integrated brand communication.

The concentration of many creative persons on media facades with purely artistic nature will not be sustainably productive. The challenge is rather to include the enormous dynamics of social media in the urban spaces.  Only economically oriented business models can achieve this. And only by such business models free spaces will develop, that can be usefully filled with artistic applications. Now, the art can rely on clear concepts and take over communicative tasks in the public space. And this is the only way to prevent the art from being pushed in urban spaces without any contextual relation, which would even increase people’s disorientation.

The third skin – a medium or a mess(age)?

by Eckehart Loidolt

Starting with samples derived from the history of architecture illustrating the key topics of buildings as ‘the third skin’ of mankind the presentation then jumps into main several questions for building envelopes such as protection, function, energy and meaning, facing several different contexts of today.

Opening a second stream of arguments, the statement dives into the wide field of ‘architecture parlante’ elaborating on sense or non-sense  of narrative elements  in architecture by balancing out their pros and cons. Ever since buildings have been experienced by passers-by through their façades  which are physically defining public space , their genuine expression has been an important issue, though it has not always been treated carefully enough.

After bare Modernism and exuberant Postmodernism new tools and materials were entering the domain of building expression. Leaving aside the glittering world of commercial advertisement as well as the ‘night-beauties’  illuminated by artificial light when electricity entered the cities in the last century new forms of building-related, adoptive media communication get illustrated.

Looking at the exciting allures of present media-façades the inevitable question of content is introduced and exploited. Are we able yet to talk about new and reliable models of social interaction defining a media space or do we only face a variety of electronic attractions blurring the meaning of public space?

Pointing out durability and beauty as key issues for the longevity and life-span of building solutions the glittering media appearance in architecture is reflected upon critically. In this context the wide range of moveable functional parts in building envelopes researched on and gathered into the ‘Move’-book at Prof. Michael Schumacher’s department at the Leibniz University  in Hannover (D) is illustrated as genuine means of today’s architecture.

Architecture as New Media

by Professor William Joseph Carpenter FAIA, PhD

Throughout the history of architecture, architects have transformed abstract ideas into tangible structures. In these buildings of the past exists an inseparable unity of design and construction processes. Today, however, a complex and segmented process nearly separates the architect from the builder; the significance of construction is marginalized. The building process is compartmentalized rather than seen as an integral way to extend and develop design ideas.

Architectural education, especially in North America, has mirrored this segmented process of architectural practice. It is very rare for architecture students to actually build something they design. But, in some cases, such as at the Dessau Bauhaus, students were encouraged to build in order to learn and pursue design intentions. In recent years, design-build has swept through the industry as a delivery method offering faster and more cost-effective buildings. But these programs, for the most part, tend to emphasize cost savings and efficiency over design process and rigor and therefore these structures have lost the connection to design that once existed in buildings of the past, rather they.

This study is a wake up call to academia and industry to once again see the connection between design and workmanship in architectural education. The research investigates the recent development of design-build studios (DBS for the purpose of this essay) in North America. This essay presents two process models and describes the fundamental pedagogical intentions. This essay identifies and critically analyze the interweaving factors of design and construction seen against the complex backdrop of the students’ experience and the professors’ intentions and objectives.

This research represents a convergence of practical, educational and philosophical theories. Design, materials and assembly are knitted into a cohesive whole through the filter of education (Boyer and Mitgang, 1996; Lang, 1986; Pye, 1978). The book examines the relationship of design and construction through selected theoretical texts and places the research into historical and paradigmatic context (Nesbitt, 1996). It aims to unearth new knowledge through research and case studies, focusing on the nature of construction in design and its effect on the design process of the architect.

Bios of the Participants

Christoph Kronhagel

Christoph Kronhagel was born 1958 in Wolfsburg studied architecture at the RWTH University of Aachen from 1980-88. During his studies he developed an interdisciplinary way of working that enabled him to use all possibilities of visual designing. His ambition was to understand architecture as a medium for communication: How is it possible to reflect social conditions in a way that the citizens will be provided with a sensual orientation? In 1991 the company ag4 was established as a consortium for four dimensional constructions. Ag4 grew into an interdisciplinary company that creates media architectural projects which enable companies like, BMW, Aventis and Merck Serono, to communicate their identity in public space. The idea of transparent media façades was realised in 2004 when ag4 developed the application of LED's that made it possible to design and install the first transparent media façade for the T-mobile company in Bonn. In 2008, Christoph Kronhagel left ag4 and established KRONHAGEL MEDIATECTURE GmbH in order to serve customers with holistic solutions for their mediatectures in the future. In addition to its formative competencies, strategy consulting, development and networking of mediatecture with various communication channels are among the range of services offered by Kronhagel Mediatecture – services which architects, companies, urban planners and investors equally benefit from. As base for this work Christoph Kronhagel published the book „Mediatecture“, Springer NewYork 2010.

Eckehart Loidolt

Eckehart Loidolt, Architect  DI  was born in 1967  in Vienna (A); 1986 – 1995 Educated  in Architecture  at ETH Zurich  (CH) and Diploma at TH Darmstadt (D), 1988 – 1989. Practically trained in Architecture  at Behnisch & Partners, Stuttgart (D), at Lengfeld & Wilisch‘s, Darmstadt (D), and at Büro Maki & Associates,  Tokio (J); 1996 - 1998 Collaboration at Mediastadt / Topos, Darmstadt (D), at Lapeña & Torres, Barcelona (E) and at Baumschlager  + Eberle‘s, Lochau (A); 1997 ‚Tische’-Grant of the Austrian BMfWK; 1999 – 2009 Project Manager  at Baumschlager + Eberle‘s, Vaduz (FL) and Vienna (A); 2005 Registration as Architect, Vienna (A); Since 2010 Managing Partner at ‚schneider+Schumacher Architekten  ZT GmbH‘, Vienna (A);

Stefan Mittlböck- Jungwirth- Fohringer

Stefan Mittlböck- Jungwirth- Fohringer holds a degree in fine art, with a technical background as an electrician. He has been a member of the Ars Electronica Futurelab since 2001, where in 2009 he became the Director of the Media and Architecture focus group.

Mahir M. Yavuz

Mahir M. Yavuz is an external senior researcher of media art and architecture in Ars Electronica Futurelab. He is currently engaged in doctoral studies in Interface Culture at Kunstuniversität Linz Besides giving lectures at the same university, he is also one of the principals of Newgray, a research & design company based in New York. His works have been exhibited internationally at several institutions and venues including the 49th Venice Biennial, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Siggraph, Ars Electronica Festivals, PS1/MoMA, Apexart, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Exitart and Kunst-Werke, Berlin.

About Ars Electronica Futurelab — Media Art and Architecture Group

Today, technology and media are among major tools used in architectural practices in developing global cities. Ars Electronica Futurelab Media Art and Architecture Group consists of artists and researchers from various fields including computer science, sociology, design, communication and media sciences. The research group aims to focus on emerging interfaces and communication methods among architecture, citizens and environment. By examining the employment of interactive media as an element of art and architecture in public spaces, the group also aims to realize practical projects in semantic and functional context. Smart cities, materialized information, responsive/adaptive architecture and intelligent environments are some of the key research topics of the group. Likewise, the group concentrates on the position and the role of media architecture with respect to discussions on art and communication studies.

Professor William Joseph Carpenter FAIA, PhD

Throughout his career, Dr. William Carpenter studied under several prominent academic voices including Samuel Mockbee, Christopher Rischer, and Norman Jaffe. Dr. Carpenter is owner and founder of the internationally recognized design firm Lightroom, located in Decatur, GA. Lightroom specializes in architecture and new media for both commercial and residential clients. Carpenter uses Lightroom as an extensive learning opportunity for interns through internships that are available year-round.

He was elected as a Fellow of the AIA in 2000 and to the AIA National Board of Directors as South Atlantic Director in 2010. Most recently, Carpenter has been creating publications that capture the current, unique environment in architectural practice and education. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his two beautiful daughters, playing the bass, and making delicious smoothies.