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From "Advertising Architecture” to “Media Façade" : communication through digital display skin

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2009
Aydoğan, Esra
There is a growing trend to design buildings with colourful and dynamic outer skins through the integration of digital media tools, particularly Led Emitting Diode (LED) systems, and the use of innovative technology. This integration has been discussed in recent conferences under the term “media façade” as a new research field. Discussing the intersection of media, technology, art, and architecture, this field introduces a new form of communication platform, urban space and public perception, which can be viewed through the perspective of Guy Debord’s “The Society of the Spectacle” and Jean Baudrillard’s “sign value” concept. Proceeding from the idea that a façade is a communication tool, the thesis compares what Adolf Behne in the early 20th century termed as Reklamearchitektur (advertising architecture) with the current “media façade”. Venturi’s comparison of Gothic cathedrals to billboards of the Las Vegas Strip in the 1970s applies today to the “Media Building” in Paul Virilio’s discussion of the digital age, where the information is active and interactive. This study considers the façades with attached signs, signboards and billboards as a continuation of advertising architecture, in contrast to the media façade examples with integrated digital media tools that are inbuilt to the design. Among the cases presented, three are selected (BIX, GreenPix and Digital Water Pavilion) for discussing the advantages and disadvantages of media façades, under the following titles: communication, ornamentation, flexibility, ephemerality, sustainability, and location. It is observed that the new relation between digital media and architecture not only initiates a new kind of communication platform, but also indicates the emergence and proliferation of a potential propaganda tool. To this end, the guidance of a social control mechanism for the applications of media façades is suggested.