Dexia Tower: An Exercise in Interactive Architecture

Dexia Tower: An Exercise in Interactive Architecture

Think you can't find beauty in a bank? Think again. The Dexia Tower, located in Brussels, embodies just that. Thanks to the creativity of LAb[au], a Belgium based digital design lab, the Dexia Tower has become infinitely more than just a home for paperwork and numbers.

The tower itself went up in 2006, and since then has been host to a variety of fantastic light shows. The third tallest building in Brussels has a lot more going for it than just height, however: Of the building's 6000 windows, 4200 of them contain an installation of 12 light bulbs, each housing 3 LED's (a green, blue and red) that can be combined to form a complete palette of color. The result is a tremendous canvas that can display anything from letters to geometric designs. Seem wasteful? It isn't --recent tests show that the tower uses 1/3 of the electricity that Paris' famed Eiffel Tower uses, thanks to a highly efficient energy saving LED lighting system.

pierre-j.jpgimg by Pierre J.

The tower is currently exhibiting a show called "Who’s afraid of Red, Green and Blue?" which is shown in the picture above. In a two month collaboration with the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, the tower exhibits the temperature of the following day using color. The color code follows a naturally coordinating scale, with violet symbolizing -6° or colder and warming through the color spectrum, red being at the opposite end and symbolizing +6° or warmer. The result is beauty with something useful below the surface, and while there is much to be said for beauty and art all on their own, the function of the Dexia Tower's current show lends a lovely depth to the spectacle. Hit the link below to see this stunning exhibit in action.

To create this effect, all blinds must be closed on the tower, as the LEDs are not capable of lighting the facade alone. It is actually the reflection on the closed blind that lights up the window. The entire lighting system is controlled by a computer. The key to making the entire display flow is that some things are only visible when certain windows are lit in certain colors. Each of the windows can be illuminated completely individually and in any color, which is a large part of what makes the Dexia Tower so brilliant.

In 2006, the Dexia Tower hosted another dynamic exhibit called Touch. Called an "interactive light game" and developed by LAb[au], this feature allowed visitors to use a touch screen to project geometrical shapes on the tower for a few moments and then send the image of their personalized design to themselves via email. The exhibit earned the tower tremendous recognition and it was mentioned on hundreds of websites thereafter.

Per the Dexia Tower website: "The system recognizes both static (touch) and dynamic (gesture) input to generate an elementary graphical lexicon of points, lines and surfaces. These are combined with physical behavioral movements (growth, weight…) and use a monochrome color
palette (background) combined with black and white (graphics). The design of the interactive station is, like the project in general, based on the idea of the folding and unfolding of space. Time and space are combined into a dynamic and sequential concept of interactive lighting."

More pictures of the Dexia Tower



img by Marc Wathieu

img by Andrea in Amsterdam

img by [-db-]

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Showing 1 - 9 of 9 Comments
Something like that top color strip is used for weather forecasting of temperature difference from the monthly average.
Société Générale Bank should have spent some of their $7 billion loss on something like this to make their traders happy. human ingenuity to the extreme awes me once again. *applauds* well done.

love it

Greetings from Barcelona!

Dexia Tower
What a wonderful sight! Colors are the essence of light and dark, they on their own evoke emotions of passion.

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