Founded with a mission to create a digital wallpaper that would transform the way audiences engaged with their surroundings, NanoLumens pushes the limits of media architecture further and further each year. We’ve found that as digital display technologies grow more prevalent in all facets of daily life, audiences not only expect to see screens in just about every room they enter but also to see these screens integrated into the very fabric of a building’s architecture. Working with renowned content creators like the digital sculptor Refik Anadol and the experts from Second Story and Moment Factory, NanoLumens has helped some of the world’s most sophisticated clients in transportation, communications, and commercial real estate evolve their space from simply a building into an immersive, future-proofed digital environment. We’ve written in this space before about the degrees of freedom in design NanoLumens grants each of our clients but its worth briefly touching on the media architecture successes of a few installations because each represents a remarkable achievement in thinking outside the box.
Media architecture can establish a sense of place
Changi International Airport is amongst the busiest air travel hubs in the world, but to fulfill its potential as the preeminent cultural gateway to Southeast Asia for international travelers, the brand new Terminal 4 needed some state-of-the-art media architecture. After a highly competitive bidding process complicated by highly specific design, integration, and support requirements, the Changi Airport Group partnered with NanoLumens. The decision to opt for LED from NanoLumens over any rival technology was simple, as NanoLumens was able to design products that met Changi’s exact requirements for specifications like brightness, height, width, and depth while maintaining the image quality Changi demanded for the content they sourced from Moment Factory. The Changi team proceeded to incorporate two separate displays to bring a distinct sense of character to multiple locations within Terminal 4. One such area is known as The Heritage Zone, where an enormous display is embedded seamlessly into an artificial façade designed to celebrate the cultural, artistic, and architectural development of Singapore during the late 19th and early 20th century. The massive piece of media architecture would not have been possible without our front-end design contributions and today the display is used to showcase a custom-made short film called Peranakan Love Story that communicates a deep sense of place to the travelers passing through Changi. The install has received numerous awards for its creativity, ambition, and execution.
A dynamic digital environment can inspire new perspectives
A second example of immersive media architecture can be found in the Intel Museum at the Robert Noyce Center, where Intel is headquartered. In this space, Intel canvassed a raised ceiling and its four adjacent walls with LED boards, creating a digital canopy above a central sitting area. As you can imagine, the front-end design challenges here were immense. Not only did Intel require display products that could mount flush onto ceilings and walls but they needed these displays to meet the exact dimensions of the spaces into which they would embed. These displays also had to align with one another seamlessly so that audiences below saw a single continuous image rather than the underside of a blocky cube fragmented by bezels. Because the displays align expertly without any interruption between one display to the next, the installation is uniquely effective at giving audiences the impression that they are inside an underwater kelp forest, or inside a hockey rink, or in a light show.
Using Media Architecture to Build a Brand Identity
A final example of media architecture lives in the lobby of the Legacy Union Bank of America Tower in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the most fundamental design challenges faced by Legacy Union here was the sheer size of the task. The tall two-story glass windows that enclose the lobby invite endless floods of ambient light into the space and with such high visibility come high stakes; all eyes would be on this space so it had to be truly exceptional lest it compromise the overall perception of the development. Further restrictions required a front-serviceable solution given that the marble and concrete wall onto which the display would be affixed had already been built. Infrastructure limitations required the display operate without any cooling equipment and both Legacy Union and the building’s architecture firm LS3P prioritized working with a display provider that was both familiar from past work and utterly reliable into the future. NanoLumens proved to be one of the only candidates capable of building a front-serviceable display designed to cool by convection and our display also mounted at a much shallower depth than competitors since it didn’t require third-party mounting.
Today the lobby contains a 64-foot wide by 36-foot tall LED display with a total surface area nearly 3.5 times the size of a highway billboard. The resolution of the display allows for any style of modern content to be shown without reformatting or special processing, including the immersive rainbow amalgamation from Second Story dubbed “Unify,” Carolina Panthers games, and additional drone footage of Charlotte. The many awards this install has one prove this media architecture successfully delivers its message of modernity and cohesiveness to a city on the rise.
These three installations provide a diverse and instructive illustration of how organizations, the buildings they inhabit, and the audiences that fill them are shaped by media architecture. Writing for the online architecture monitor ArchDaily in May of 2019, Dima Stouhi wrote that digital communication has changed the way people view and interact with architecture, providing architects with new insights on how to design their structures.” NanoLumens is committed to giving architects the knowledge and tools they need to act on these insights. As our Director of Special Projects Dan Rossborough said, “Large-format direct-view LED displays are applicable for the various stakeholders doing business inside today’s airports worldwide; from DOOH advertisers, to concessionaires, airlines, and the airports themselves, so it is our responsibility to provide useful information and training to the architects and designers who shape these spaces.” The rate at which architecture and digital display technology evolve isn’t going to slow down any time soon, so we encourage intrepid architects to head to our site to check out the continuing education courses we offer through AIA so that you can best design your next media architecture project!