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Revealing the Architectural
Quality of Media Architecture
Niels Wouters Research[x]Design, KU Leuven, Belgium
Koenraad Keignaert Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium
Jonathan Huyghe Meaningful Interactions Lab, KU Leuven – iMinds, Belgium
Andrew Vande Moere Research[x]Design, KU Leuven, Belgium
Media Architecture
Dynamic Building Material
1 Fortin, C., Neustaedter C. and Hennessy, K. The Appropriation of a Digital Speakers Corner. 

In Proceedings of Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’14). 2014.
Influence physical appearanceObjectives
1 Weiner, H. Media Architecture as Social Catalyst in Urban Public Spaces

In Proceedings of MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena. 2010.
Objectives Influence spatial experience
1 Taylor, N., Marshall, J., Blum-Ross, A., Mills, J., Rogers, J.Egglestone, P., Frohlich, D. M., Wright, P. and Olivier, P. Viewpoint: Empowering
Communities with Situated Voting Devices. In Proceedings of Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). 2012.
Objectives Public interaction
1 Fischer, P. and Hornecker, E. Urban HCI: Spatial Aspects in the Design of Shared Encounters for Media Facades. 

In Proceedings of Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). 2012.
Objectives Public engagement
Good architecture?
Good media architecture?
Challenge
What if media architecture is
considered as a form of
architecture (and not media)?
What are the “architectural
qualities” of media architecture?
Study Design
Methodology
Develop image set



‣ 24 global media architecture
projects
‣ Media facades
‣ Public displays
‣ Media art
Invite participants
‣ 10 firms
‣ > 10 years active
‣ No experience with
media architecture
‣ 22 participating architects
Organise Q survey



‣ Online survey
‣ Forced normal distribution
‣ Qualitative feedback on
highest and lowest ranked
images
Methodology
Develop image set



‣ 24 global media architecture
projects
‣ Media facades
‣ Public displays
‣ Media art
Invite participants
‣ 10 architecture offices
‣ > 10 years active
‣ No experience with
media architecture
‣ 22 participating architects
Organise Q survey



‣ Online survey
‣ Forced normal distribution
‣ Qualitative feedback on
highest and lowest ranked
images
Methodology
Develop image set



‣ 24 global media
architecture projects
‣ Media facades
‣ Public displays
‣ Media art
Invite participants
‣ 10 firms
‣ > 10 years active
‣ No experience with
media architecture
‣ 22 participating architects
Deploy Q survey



‣ Online survey
‣ Forced normal
distribution
‣ Qualitative feedback
‣ Quantitative and
qualitative data
analysis
Methodology
1 Donald Alan Schön. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Temple Smith (London, UK), 1983.
2 Susanne Bødker. Creating Conditions for Participation: Conflicts and Resources in Systems Development. IJHCI 11, 3 (1996). 215-236.
3 Yvonne Rogers et al. Why It’s Worth the Hassle: The Value of in-Situ Studies When Designing Ubicomp. In Ubiquitous Computing 2007 (Ubicomp ’07). 

Springer, 2007, 336-353.
Design-oriented HCI
research

‣ Problem setting: frame
context of issues1
‣ Develop and study low-
fidelity prototype
In-the-wild
evaluation

‣ Complexities of public
context
‣ Ecological validity3
Participatory design



‣ Researcher as designer2
‣ Collaborate with end users
Results
Physical integration of media in architecture
Quality of experience
‣ Atmosphere
‣ Responsiveness
Quality of communication
Shared discourses between participants
Discourses
Physical Quality
“disproportionate”
“bombastic”
“disconnected”
“invalidating volume”
“mundane”
“inelegant”
“generic”
“new materiality”
Physical quality
“The digital media seems agnostic of the
architectural design rationale and the
surrounding physical context”
Port Authority, New York, NY, USA (GKD Media Mesh)
“The lights in the building skin help to
demonstrate the organic expression of the
architectural rationale”
Physical quality
Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria (Realities:United)
Experience Quality: Atmosphere
Discourses
“experience”
“turn non-places into places”
“small and subtle light units have a calming effect”
“poetic”
“gesture”
“inspires the imagination”
“The unimaginative generic screen negates the
atmosphere that the otherwise interesting
architecture creates in itself”
Experience quality: atmosphere
AB InBev HQ, Leuven, Belgium (AB InBev)
“It seems to be a novel kind of stained glass
that amplifies the existing rich spatial
experience and installs a unique scenography”
Experience quality: ability to respond
Lotus Dome, Lille, France (Studio Roosegaarde)
Experience Quality:
Responsiveness
Discourses
“but also provides travel information”
“façade can show particular information during daytime”
“It might entertain people”
“support sense of safety at night”
Experience quality: atmosphere
“the pavement becomes a decorative part of
the urban environment at night, in contrast to
its purely functional purpose during daytime”
Place du Monard, Geneva.
Communication Quality
Discourses
public display
“unrefined”
“unimaginative”
“uninspiring”
“light pollution”
media facade
“soft”
“well considered”
Communicative quality
“this rather playful image fails to communicate
anything relevant to the business activities
inside the building”
National Library, Minsk, Belarus (GVA Lighting)
Communicative quality
“A bombastic design and unrefined
communication that, in the end, does nothing
but scream for attention”
National Library, Minsk, Belarus (GVA Lighting)
“Media architecture becomes a well-considered
material to relay a range of abstract but
meaningful messages”
Communicative quality
Galleria CenterCity, Seoul, South Korea (UNStudio)
Discussion
= 1/ to align in terms of volume,
2/ dimensions and proportions,
3/ to extend rhythm and repetition,
4/ blending with architectural expression.
Physical quality
= 1/ to create a mood and atmosphere,
2/ to ‘make’ a place,
3/ to bridge different environmental 

aspects towards a unified

experience.
Atmosphere quality
= 1/ to adapt according to time,
2/ to adapt according to (architecturally

relevant) functionalities.
Responsiveness quality
= 1/ to the significance of what is shown,
2/ of how the message is shown,
3/ how the message is integrated 

(physically and meaningfully).
Communication quality
Conclusion
New terminology
‣ Physical quality
‣ Experience quality
‣ Communication quality
Architectural quality
‣ Materiality
‣ Atmosphere
‣ Volume
‣ Place-making
‣ Rhythm
‣ Scenography
‣ Collective experience
‣ Contextualization
‣ Modularity
‣ Proportion
‣ Poetry
‣ Significance of message
‣ …
‣ Amplify architectural design rationale
‣ Augment (spatial) experience
‣ Enable dynamic adaption of architectural
functions
‣ Contextualize messaging through
architectural expression
Architectural quality versus Media quality
Niels Wouters
@mediatecture niels.wouters@asro.kuleuven.be nielswouters.be
Revealing the Architectural
Quality of Media Architecture
Andrew Vande Moere andrew.vandemoere@kuleuven.be @vdmoere

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Revealing the Architectural Quality of Media Architecture

  • 1. Revealing the Architectural Quality of Media Architecture Niels Wouters Research[x]Design, KU Leuven, Belgium Koenraad Keignaert Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium Jonathan Huyghe Meaningful Interactions Lab, KU Leuven – iMinds, Belgium Andrew Vande Moere Research[x]Design, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2.
  • 4. Dynamic Building Material 1 Fortin, C., Neustaedter C. and Hennessy, K. The Appropriation of a Digital Speakers Corner. 
 In Proceedings of Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’14). 2014. Influence physical appearanceObjectives
  • 5. 1 Weiner, H. Media Architecture as Social Catalyst in Urban Public Spaces
 In Proceedings of MediaCity: Interaction of Architecture, Media and Social Phenomena. 2010. Objectives Influence spatial experience
  • 6. 1 Taylor, N., Marshall, J., Blum-Ross, A., Mills, J., Rogers, J.Egglestone, P., Frohlich, D. M., Wright, P. and Olivier, P. Viewpoint: Empowering Communities with Situated Voting Devices. In Proceedings of Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). 2012. Objectives Public interaction
  • 7. 1 Fischer, P. and Hornecker, E. Urban HCI: Spatial Aspects in the Design of Shared Encounters for Media Facades. 
 In Proceedings of Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). 2012. Objectives Public engagement
  • 10. Challenge What if media architecture is considered as a form of architecture (and not media)? What are the “architectural qualities” of media architecture?
  • 12. Methodology Develop image set
 
 ‣ 24 global media architecture projects ‣ Media facades ‣ Public displays ‣ Media art Invite participants ‣ 10 firms ‣ > 10 years active ‣ No experience with media architecture ‣ 22 participating architects Organise Q survey
 
 ‣ Online survey ‣ Forced normal distribution ‣ Qualitative feedback on highest and lowest ranked images
  • 13.
  • 14. Methodology Develop image set
 
 ‣ 24 global media architecture projects ‣ Media facades ‣ Public displays ‣ Media art Invite participants ‣ 10 architecture offices ‣ > 10 years active ‣ No experience with media architecture ‣ 22 participating architects Organise Q survey
 
 ‣ Online survey ‣ Forced normal distribution ‣ Qualitative feedback on highest and lowest ranked images
  • 15.
  • 16. Methodology Develop image set
 
 ‣ 24 global media architecture projects ‣ Media facades ‣ Public displays ‣ Media art Invite participants ‣ 10 firms ‣ > 10 years active ‣ No experience with media architecture ‣ 22 participating architects Deploy Q survey
 
 ‣ Online survey ‣ Forced normal distribution ‣ Qualitative feedback ‣ Quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • 17. Methodology 1 Donald Alan Schön. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Temple Smith (London, UK), 1983. 2 Susanne Bødker. Creating Conditions for Participation: Conflicts and Resources in Systems Development. IJHCI 11, 3 (1996). 215-236. 3 Yvonne Rogers et al. Why It’s Worth the Hassle: The Value of in-Situ Studies When Designing Ubicomp. In Ubiquitous Computing 2007 (Ubicomp ’07). 
 Springer, 2007, 336-353. Design-oriented HCI research
 ‣ Problem setting: frame context of issues1 ‣ Develop and study low- fidelity prototype In-the-wild evaluation
 ‣ Complexities of public context ‣ Ecological validity3 Participatory design
 
 ‣ Researcher as designer2 ‣ Collaborate with end users
  • 19.
  • 20.
  • 21.
  • 22. Physical integration of media in architecture Quality of experience ‣ Atmosphere ‣ Responsiveness Quality of communication Shared discourses between participants
  • 24. Physical quality “The digital media seems agnostic of the architectural design rationale and the surrounding physical context” Port Authority, New York, NY, USA (GKD Media Mesh)
  • 25. “The lights in the building skin help to demonstrate the organic expression of the architectural rationale” Physical quality Kunsthaus, Graz, Austria (Realities:United)
  • 26. Experience Quality: Atmosphere Discourses “experience” “turn non-places into places” “small and subtle light units have a calming effect” “poetic” “gesture” “inspires the imagination”
  • 27. “The unimaginative generic screen negates the atmosphere that the otherwise interesting architecture creates in itself” Experience quality: atmosphere AB InBev HQ, Leuven, Belgium (AB InBev)
  • 28. “It seems to be a novel kind of stained glass that amplifies the existing rich spatial experience and installs a unique scenography” Experience quality: ability to respond Lotus Dome, Lille, France (Studio Roosegaarde)
  • 29. Experience Quality: Responsiveness Discourses “but also provides travel information” “façade can show particular information during daytime” “It might entertain people” “support sense of safety at night”
  • 30. Experience quality: atmosphere “the pavement becomes a decorative part of the urban environment at night, in contrast to its purely functional purpose during daytime” Place du Monard, Geneva.
  • 32. Communicative quality “this rather playful image fails to communicate anything relevant to the business activities inside the building” National Library, Minsk, Belarus (GVA Lighting)
  • 33. Communicative quality “A bombastic design and unrefined communication that, in the end, does nothing but scream for attention” National Library, Minsk, Belarus (GVA Lighting)
  • 34. “Media architecture becomes a well-considered material to relay a range of abstract but meaningful messages” Communicative quality Galleria CenterCity, Seoul, South Korea (UNStudio)
  • 36. = 1/ to align in terms of volume, 2/ dimensions and proportions, 3/ to extend rhythm and repetition, 4/ blending with architectural expression. Physical quality
  • 37. = 1/ to create a mood and atmosphere, 2/ to ‘make’ a place, 3/ to bridge different environmental 
 aspects towards a unified
 experience. Atmosphere quality
  • 38. = 1/ to adapt according to time, 2/ to adapt according to (architecturally
 relevant) functionalities. Responsiveness quality
  • 39. = 1/ to the significance of what is shown, 2/ of how the message is shown, 3/ how the message is integrated 
 (physically and meaningfully). Communication quality
  • 41. New terminology ‣ Physical quality ‣ Experience quality ‣ Communication quality Architectural quality ‣ Materiality ‣ Atmosphere ‣ Volume ‣ Place-making ‣ Rhythm ‣ Scenography ‣ Collective experience ‣ Contextualization ‣ Modularity ‣ Proportion ‣ Poetry ‣ Significance of message ‣ …
  • 42. ‣ Amplify architectural design rationale ‣ Augment (spatial) experience ‣ Enable dynamic adaption of architectural functions ‣ Contextualize messaging through architectural expression Architectural quality versus Media quality
  • 43. Niels Wouters @mediatecture niels.wouters@asro.kuleuven.be nielswouters.be Revealing the Architectural Quality of Media Architecture Andrew Vande Moere andrew.vandemoere@kuleuven.be @vdmoere