Prima Facia – Digital Façade Design for our cities’ urban fronts

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Digital facades on buildings have become an attractive way to grab eyeballs on a magnificent scale in the current day and age: the building becomes the canvas and sophisticated technologies allow for impactful narratives to be effortlessly relayed on to a huge audience, multiplying the intended user group and the media’s message manifold.In many famous cases across the world, digital facades become the very identity of the building, where they are used for public announcements, to show solidarity with a world event, for celebration of festivals, or simply to issue a message in public interest. Given the right location, they can act as wonderful activators of an urban space, instilling it with ever bustling movement. Further, used rightly, a robustly told narrative through visual aid can be among the best tools there are for mass awareness. While digital facades can simultaneously act as a facade lighting, a piece of art, a surface for advertising and even a jumbo tron, they present an unprecedented opportunity for cosmetic refurbishment of a number of buildings and most of the glass skyscrapers dotting major metropolitan cities. The transformative effect it can have on its immediate local context is invariably important and noteworthy. Furthermore, a number of buildings with even remarkable facades lose their sense of attraction post sundown, and fall into the diurnal circle of activation only during work hours.
The challenge is to design a digital facade on the Torra Velasca, Milan, Italy to act as an activator, for itself and the immediate surrounding, and to add an additional layer of dynamism and post operation-hours utility to the building. The facade must look to utilize innovative details for it to be applied on an existing building while also taking into account the building’s usage during day time. A narrative must guide the design, preferably to be telecast on the facade itself, which can be derived either from the local context of the building or a relevant social message to be relayed to the public.