Hylozoid Soil, Philip Beesley

Looking through the work of Philip Beesley Architects you might notice an architectural portfolio with somehow traditional but still very sensible and refined building projects. However going on to his installations and interest in stage design as well as listening to one of his amazing presentations of the works you can’t help notice his extreme sensibility towards the highly complex and performative organic installations that seems to live a life of their own.


How it performs:
Hylozoic Soil is the recent installation exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as a spectacular machinic piece of work which responds to every little movement of the observer. The installation made of more than 70.000 laser-cut components set alive by proximity sensors, microcontrollers, capacitance sensors, actuators and shape-memory alloys makes the whole space hunting you like a big beasty and floating web. When passing through the installation small movements are triggered which again influence other impulses in the structure making you realize the impact on a complex system.

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Philip Beesley Architects


Homographies, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

The mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is representing some of the most impressive interactive installations open for public involvement using new technologies and custom interfaces. Rafael combines different medias and mostly with a special emphasis on tracking to emphasize the collective participation in public spaces as very personal and emotional experiences. homograhies_1.jpg

How it performs:
Homographies was installed at the Sydney Biennale 2006 as a ceiling of 144 fluorescent tubes controlled by a computerized surveillance system indicating a space determined by flow and motion. When one person is entering the space the light fixtures are pointed towards the person as a magnetic field of influence. When two or more people are entering the space, the system is using the fixtures to try to ´bridge´ the people by making light corridors between them, and as many people enter the space complex patterns begin to arise from the collective interference of the surveillance system. As in many of Lozano-Hemmers installations, the fixtures will at some point go into a random mode and reveal the logic behind the system for the audience.

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Please contact Rafael for the use of high-res images.

LoRez-HiFi, MYStudio

Low Rez – Hi Fi is an interactive project by MY Studio that activates the sidewalk and engages the pedestrians by creating a new environment that occupies the interface between the public space and the interior. The project installed in Washington is one of the sometimes rare interactive pieces which both looks and acts in a very appealing and engaging way to the influence of the audience.


How it performs:
The project consists on the one hand of a full scale LED matrix as an information screen (Lo-Rez) acting upon the movements of passersby, which is a more traditional way of interacting with flow, however realized in a very refined way. On the other hand a field of interactive sound poles (Hi-Fi) are installed in the public space in front of the building, which invites the public to play musical notes when touching the poles in different heights and then emitting a series of unique sound samples by composer Eric Carlson acting as an urban instrument. The individual touches of the poles are networked to a related sound from another pole as triggering and at the same time being part of an installation that responds in both in sound and image.LowRez_HiFi

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Kinecity seems like a really interesting collaboration that are worse following in the future. They have recently realized an interactive wall on 7 World Trade Center, which creates patterns when people passing by, but some of the unrealized projects might be even more interesting to follow. 

7 World Trade Center

How it performs:
The Comment Wall is intended as an urban bulletin board where people are able to write their thoughts directly on a wall touch screen to be saved in an urban diary. The system should be able through camera-recognition to specify the indicated information only for the individual users, where the information will fade away as soon as people are leaving their personal messages.The Dey Street Tunnel is an increasingly common phenomenon of interactive wall facades as it is a pedestrian tunnel that animates according to the people walking by. However the indicated design with the LED patterns within the reflecting screen seems promising for tunnel, as well as each individual walker are provided with a special pattern to exchange with the other visitors.
The artist for the design is James Carpenter Design Assoc. and the interactive design done by Kinecity Llc.
Comment Wall

Street Tunnel 2

More information at:
Kinecity Llc.
James Carpenter Design Associates Inc.

Digital Mile, Zaragoza

The Digital Mile project in Zaragoza, lead by Dennis Frenchman and William J. Mitchell at the MIT, is a specific research project aiming at integrating digital media on the pedestrian path, Paseo del Agua, in Zaragoza. The project is carried out as part of a joint program between City Design and Development and the Media Lab at MIT to create a vision for the Digital Mile. 

 Digital Mile 1
Credit: Dennis Frenchman

How it performs:
The project incorporates digital media in all aspects of the urban environment, with the intension to design places that respond to the present users to provide the basis for a large variety of activities, to facilitate stories and information as a service for the users. As a kind of “open-source” city it enables the users to influence the environment to become more dynamic and participatory, however maybe even more importantly to enhance the experience of social spaces. In this regard the digital technologies are supporting the physical space by extending the use of the spaces and to enable personal and public communications, exchange of goods, information, emotions and ideas as meaningful places of interaction. These activities are initiated by incorporating free wireless public networks and digital systems that change e.g. as a water wall, street surface, building façade, streetlight intensity and colour, digitally controlled urban interior pieces etc.
The project shows the really prospective possibilities for architecture to go into a feedback process with the citizens, and it will be really interesting to see the realization of the projects on the mile.Dennis Frenchman and Francisca Rojas did a really good article about the project to be downloaded from the link below. 


Digital Mile 2
Credit: Andres Sevtsuk

More information at:
Article about the project
Smart Cities


The Blinklights project was originally a light installation built for the 20th birthday of Chaos Computer Club (CCC) in Berlin. The light installation was installed in the “Haus der lehrers” (House of the Teacher) office building at the Alexanderplatz in Berlin to become at that time one for the biggest interactive computer displays. The next project was the Arcade installed in the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris, where the 20 x 26 windows of the building was installed with screens and halogen lighting to make it a large interactive screen.

Credit: Harald & Erhard Fotografie

How it performs:
During the event where the interactive installation occupied the facades, the building was turned into an Arcade game where it was possible to play the classic computer games on one of the towers of the National Library. At the same time the interactive software was extended to include public participation where people could create own animations and pictures to upload to the façade as well as doing experiments in sending individual messages to the urban screen from mobile phones. In this way the building became an urban media for both events and social groupings around the city.
The software has been further developed and extended into other applications.

Credit: Harald & Erhard Fotografie

More information at:

Kunsthaus Graz, Spacelab Cook-Fournier

The new Kunsthaus in Graz has been announced as a ´friendly alien´, where the building is occupying a dense space in the historical district of Graz. The media façade developed by Realities United is a special system to illuminate the outer skin as an electronically changing façade in opposition to the interior ´black box´ museum.

Credit: Nicolas Lackner

How it performs:
The media façade of the building is acting both as advertisement for the museum in relation to exhibitions and events as well as it becomes a media for experimenting artists and visitors. The group Realities United developed the Bix system for this building as a matrix of fluorescent lamps that can be dimmered and controlled on the outer façade as a communicative display and low-resolution screen. Using the Bix system the façade becomes an experimental tool for artists however also at the same time one of the most important brands and identity related elements of Kunsthaus Graz.
Realities United has extended their experiments with their software Bix into other projects at e.g. Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.

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Open Burble, Usman Haque

Open Burble is one of the more recent installations from Usman Haque where he exemplifies how performative installations can become collective environments. The installation consisted of a large structure of balloons designed and assembled by the participants and commissioned by the Singapore Biennale 2006 with the premiere on Sept 1, 2006.



Credit: Eng Kiat Tan / Haque Design + Research

How it performs:
With the Open Burble a large number of connected balloons are launched to the sky with each balloon equipped with LED light and connected to an electronic system. The design of the colour patterns and interactions are carried out together with the citizens assembling the modular system to one collective whole. When the total construction is launched it can be positioned and the light adjusted according to the participants movements on ground where the individual actions are initiating echoes of light through the overall Burble. The main performative experiences occurs when each individual action becomes an integral part of the overall spectacular experience.

Credit: Eng Kiat Tan / Haque Design + Research

Credit: Haque Design + Research

Credit: Eng Kiat Tan / Haque Design + Research

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D-tower, Doetinchem

D-tower is a 12 m tall tower designed by artist Q.S. Serafijn and architect Lars Spuybroek / NOX, and is located in the city of Doetinchem, Netherlands, mapping the emotions of the inhabitants. By combining network relationships with a performative sculpture, the project locates itself as both a prefabricated epoxy sculpture in the city and a performative entity affected by the inhabitants.


How it performs:
The tower changes the lights according to emotions reflected from the D-tower website, (www.d-toren.nl). On the website there is a questionnaire, where the inhabitants can respond to respectively love, hate, happiness and fear, determining the intensities of their feelings. Each evening the tower transmits the colours as “the State of the Town” assuming the most intensely emotions as a large interactive system of relationships.

Personal messages can be placed in a capsule underneath the tower as well as the tower will present a prize to the address in the city that scores the highest level of emotions.


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Foto: Henk Vlasblom

Hotel Habitat, Barcelona

Hotel Habitat is a hotel by Enric Ruiz Geli, Max Zinnecker with James Clar with its most significant characteristic as a 3.000 m2 stainless steel mesh as a tensegrity structure offsetted from the concrete structure and glass facade.
The design concept is presented as ´your room in a tree´, where each leaf on the steel mesh consists of one photovoltaic cell, a battery, CPU and a RGB LED which creates an artificial light cloud around the hotel.

How it performs:
The ‘energy mesh’ has individual nodes with photosensors that collect the sun’s energy during the day and at night gives off a specific color according to the amount of energy collected reflected in an ´energy diagram´. The mesh consists of 500 tri-color LEDs controlled by a PIC microprocessor making the skin a thermometer as a ´performance architecture´; an architecture of particles.
There is no central computer controlling the light, but the appearence is reflected in the overall expression of the performance of each individual particle.

More information at:

Hotel Habitat 2

Hotel Habitat 1

Model images by James Clar