Facade clubbing
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Media facades are not the solution for every location. Times Square is not everywhere. And yet if a street or a location is to be defined as part of an overall media surface concept, then the challenge is all about differentiating between what is normal and what is special. In the case of the facade of the Klubhaus St. Pauli in Hamburg/DE a work has been achieved which is definitely a world-first. It does not turn St. Pauli into Times Square; when it comes to creativity, it actually leaves Times Square behind. This becomes especially clear when the two-dimensional quality of the media facade undergoes its fascinating transition...

The Klubhaus St. Pauli featuring a striking, world-first media facade is located in one of Hamburg’s key entertainment and nightlife districts. The six-storey building houses music clubs, office spaces, bars and restaurants and live event locations. The media facade, which features a novel symbiosis of architecture and media design – dynamic mediatecture – lends itself to a wide range of fun uses, including opportunities for interaction. The design comprises a combination of architecture and media installation, in which moving images and a building structure are understood as equal components of the building’s identity. And that is not the only reason why the media facade on the Klubhaus St. Pauli is worlds apart from conventional architectural screens. The transparency of the facade is also unparalleled. Apart from the fact that core visuals – artistic video animations – were custom designed for the architecture and to align with the structure of the building, its location and usage.

The structure itself, with a total floor area of 5000 square metres, was designed by akyol kamps : bbp architekten, who worked closely together with the creative minds from the Bremen-based design studio Urbanscreen from the design phase onwards. The architecture and the media installation were developed in parallel. Urbanscreen are responsible for the design and the artistic direction of the media facade. This was realised in collaboration with the lighting designers from Bartenbach lighting design, Multivision LED-Systeme GmbH, Onlyglass GmbH and the media engineers from Intermediate Engineering.

The media facade covers a surface area of approximately 700 square metres. It is not merely yet another screen within the urban landscape, but an integral system embracing the architecture and the sequences of moving 

images. Given the completely new approach applied, the conventional screen format can be broken up and redistributed across the surface of the building in the form of a topographical layout. The light sources integrated into the facade and applied to generate the images and visual impressions include classic architectural lighting equipment and high-resolution LED meshes. These consist of three different media modules: 177 square metres of high-resolution media mesh, 265 square metres of RGB surfaces, and 50 square metres of high-resolution transparent glass displays in the external elevator section of the building join forces with the sections of the facade left blank to create the overall concept.

Bartenbach lighting design developed the design principles for the facade and the basic planning for the technical realisation of what became the first ever transparent media facade – unlike all other video screens known to date. Visitors and staff inside the building can still see outside even when the media facade is in operation. In addition, the principles laid down for the facade ensure that there is no light pollution or glare. Bartenbach lighting design developed the cross section of the facade so that no light is radiated above the horizontal into the sky and is only visible when viewed from street level. Moreover, the cross section redirects the sunlight so people working in the office spaces in the building are not disturbed by glare. The lighting system was likewise custom designed for the Klubhaus.

 

 

The facade is constructed out of individual, gold- coated metal frames offset at different depths. In spite of the spectacular show that can be seen outside, the finely structured facade framework does not impede the view outside, and at the same time makes for a pleasant atmosphere inside the building during the daytime. The lighting installation extends into the entrance area, giving onlookers the impression they are practically almost inside the Klubhaus. In order to light the individual frames that make up the facade of the Klubhaus in different colours, a compact LED system was developed featuring three different lighting effects. An even greater challenge than the detailed structure of the facade, however, was ensuring the coloured light was distributed to an optimum to achieve an even spread of light across the different facade sections. This was realised using a special lens developed by Bartenbach to control the exact direction of the light, which in turn required a specific type of LED source.

In addition to the coloured light, 1650 pixel lines were installed horizontally into the metal framework. These deliver an extremely high luminous intensity and transform the facade into a huge screen. The Klubhaus

St. Pauli can communicate with its environment via this screen even in the daytime. The individual LED modules are focussed to radiate light downwards at an angle to guarantee the media facade is legible from the street and to avoid causing any disturbing glare to people living in the buildings opposite. In the entrance area, alongside the coloured lighting luminaires equipped with only white light sources are installed. These are integrated practically invisibly into the metal mesh and give rise to an ideal welcoming atmosphere.

What is actually displayed on the facade can be actively influenced, controlled and changed by the viewers. The external glazed elevator leading up to the Rooftop Bar is likewise interactive: it responds visually to the movements of the lifts by displaying different video scenarios. The media facade is also able to provide live coverage of concerts or sports events.

A further unique aspect of this project is the agreement made with the City of Hamburg as to what content the media facade may display. This was linked with the financing of the project. One third is reserved for art and culture-related content. Urbanscreen custom designed core visuals for the Klubhaus to this effect, the composition of which was also tailor-made to work with the facade. Core visuals is a term that refers to the basic artistic content that is considered to be a media extension of the architecture and an integral part of the building’s identity. A further third is reserved for commercial content provided by premium advertising partners and specifically designed to be shown on the Klubhaus facade. The final third of the time available for displaying content is dedicated to the in-house art and culture agencies and institutions.

What makes the concept so special is the highly complex nature of the solution and how it was implemented.

The first level comprises the facade that forms the corner to the building, which wraps round into the entrance area, without presenting any obstacles either in the conceptual or in the structural sense. At the second level, the facade is divided into four modules, which at the third level comprise a series of elements, and at the fourth level is translated into pixels in the form of LED strips. This provides the basis for a high degree of flexibility for realising unique concept ideas. As a consequence, what has been achieved is a facade project with in-depth spatial effect. In fact, there is probably no bolder way of forfeiting two- dimensionality than what we experience here. The result is a multidimensional (media) facade surface, which in turn impacts the media content. This, too, demonstrates the immense creativity of the designers involved. When we talk about light as a means of communication in modern times, this project is a prime example. Setting new standards for modern media solutions.

Not to forget: Bartenbach was one of the first lighting design practices to become established on the market in the 1970s. Back in those days, the practice made its mark through their groundbreaking daylight technology incorporating the control and redirection of daylight, developed in the main by the founder of the practice Christian Bartenbach, often affectionately referred to as the Master Jedi of the lighting design world. These design techniques are still very relevant in the practice to this day, but the fact that the name Bartenbach now features in conjunction with inspirational state-of-the-art design and media facades is most likely the strongest indication of the next generation taking over the running of the family company and the changes incurred, with regard to both content and approach. This was naturally a process that took some time, but sometimes the burden of history appears to be stronger than the dynamics of internal processes.

In that sense, this project is of importance for Bartenbach as a practice given that the team opted to collaborate with Urbanscreen and, by bringing these partners on board, to add to their know-how and expertise. This can be taken as a sign that Bartenbach have arrived in "the here and now". Which is probably why the design part of the practice is no longer known as Lichtlabor Bartenbach but as Bartenbach lighting design. Not many people are aware of that yet.

Project team:

Architects: akyol kamps : bbp architekten bda GmbH
Lighting design: Bartenbach lighting design
Facade design: akyol kamps : bbp architekten bda GmbH / Urbanscreen GmbH & Co KG
Media architecture: Urbanscreen GmbH & Co KG
Media engineering: Intermediate Engineering GmbH
Artistic content: Urbanscreen GmbH & Co KG
Project management: Becken Development GmbH

Products applied:

For the media facade: Multivision LED-Systeme GmbH, Onlyglass GmbH
LEDs: Cree