During summer 2010, the Danish pavilion at the Shangai Expo 2010 is open to the public, inviting people to come and experience the Danish interpretation of the theme: ‘Better city, better life’. Both the interior of the building, where the visitors can experience the Little Mermaid, bike paths, and Danish art, and the building itself are worth seeing. The pavilion is balanced between digital art, and urban design and architecture. The steel construction features an enormous media façade, sparkling with colours and light. The building is therefore transformed into an architectural display that makes the pavilion come alive at nightfall. An array of sensors monitors the intensity of the sunlight on the building, thereby lighting the entire pavilion in a way that adapts gracefully to light conditions throughout the day. Every night, during the late evening hours, there is a media show that explores the screen-like potential of the façade, by displaying dedicated content that takes into account the spatial qualities of the somewhat unusual architecture.
The project started as part of a collaboration between CAVI and the Center for Digital Urban Living at the Department of Information and Media Studies at Aarhus University, the architectural group, BIG, and the lighting company, Martin Professional. CAVI developed and implemented a design for the media façade, and utilized various prototyping tools that made it possible to try out ideas for the façade before the building was completed. One of these tools was an advanced, 3D projection on a scale model of the building.
The main challenge in designing the lighting of the façade was the complex shape of the pavilion. Fifty meters long and twelve meters high, shaped like a giant spiral, and pierced by approximately 3600 holes of five different sizes, which can be considered as pixels, the exterior of the pavilion may be regarded as a complexly-shaped media façade. The fact that the façade is not rectangular, but has a curving and organic shape, made the challenge for the designers even greater. The purpose of EXPO Shanghai 2010, within CAVI’s frame of reference, was to provide an opportunity to design a media façade from an international perspective, then examine and analyse the impact and effects of a complex media façade. Furthermore, CAVI sought to investigate the challenges and experiences one might encounter when working on a project of this scale. The project therefore contributes to the development of CAVI’s forays into media façade design and research.
The building’s façade has approximately 3600 different sized holes, each installed with a semi-translucent acrylic tube and LED. The entire lighting of the building, including that of the façade, is controlled by an advanced system that utilizes light and temperature sensors to adjust the levels and colours of the lighting. CAVI implemented the controlling software using Java.