Morphing building facade changes color as you move around
By Stu Robarts
July 29, 2014
Large-scale artworks are certainly in vogue at the moment. Recently we've seen giant puppets walking the streets of Liverpool and a giant solar-harvesting duck in Copenhagen. For his part, designer Rob Ley has created a huge car-park façade that changes color as the viewer moves around it.
Ley founded his Urbana architecture and design studio in 2002. The studio creates artistic and sculptural installations for building and public spaces. Most recently, it completed its May - September installation on the Eskenazi Hospital multi-story car-park in Indianapolis.
Urbana was commissioned to design and implement the installation in August 2012 and it was completed in May of this year. It features 7,000 metal panels at different angles with a different color on each side. As viewers move from one end of the installation to the other, it begins to change color non-uniformly from "golden yellow" to "deep blue" (or vice versa) until the whole façade appears changed.
"We developed the concept, which began initially as an idea stemming from active camouflage techniques, and then worked through the design development drawings," Ley explains to Gizmag. "Camouflage was conceptually interesting to me initially, as the main purpose of the facade was to provide an intense visual screen for what is otherwise an ordinary parking structure. As the project progressed, the interest in camouflage evolved into an approach that would create a very large dynamic, interactive element for the city."
Ley wanted to avoid using moving parts in the structure, citing inevitable maintenance and longevity issues. Instead, he worked on the basis that the viewers would be moving past the structure, either on foot, by bike or in a car.
"We worked on the design and built physical mock-ups in our studio for about six months," he says. "As you might imagine, software became hugely important, and we even had to write some software on our own to helps us create the final effect."
In total, there are 18 different panels sizes and angles. They range from 300 x 600 mm (11.8 x 23.6 in) to 300 x 100 mm (11.8 x 3.9 in). The west-facing sides of the panels are colored with the deep blue while the east sides are golden yellow. Viewing the installation at different angles creates the illusion of different hues and the effect can be seen even via a viewer's peripheral vision.
The entire installation measures 18.5 x 75 m (61 x 246 ft). Its primary purpose is as a piece of art, but it also provides a screen for the multi-story car-park and masks elements such as cars, concrete beams, columns and guardrails.
The video below shows the May - September installation.