MAI Blog

Media Architecture Biennale Review

The first Media Architecture Biennale took place October 7th-9th in Vienna. It brought together an exhibition, a conference and a series of workshops, with over 200 international participants from the fields of architecture, informatics, design, lighting, and others. The theme of the Biennale 2010 was „Urban Media Territories; the re-stratification of urban public spaces through digital media.”

Keynote speakers and international panellists addressed this topic in their talks and discussions. For example Kas Oosterhuis, Professor at TU Delft, discussed the new aesthetics for the new kind of building. Ludger Hovestadt, Professor at ETH Zurich, spoke about the architectonics of the city beyond geometrical order. Maria Aiolova from Terreform ONE + Terrefuge presented their visions for strategies that would allow people to fit symbolically into their natural surrounds. The Biennale went beyond previous events organised by the Media Architecture Institute in London and Berlin, putting a much stronger emphasis on theory and conceptual approaches of media architecture. It also acknowledged the fact that information technologies are claiming urban space beyond media façades. For example, Norbert Streitz, scientific director of the Smart Future Initiative, discussed the development of the city into virtual/digital hybrid cities to smart cities, leading to the vision of a humane city.

The workshops focussed around practical issues of building media facades to scientific challenges regarding research in this area. Two of the workshops were organised by Sydney-based researchers in the field of media architecture – Hank Hausler, Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney ran a workshop on voxel facades that explored the transformation of media facades into 3D displays; Martin Tomitsch, Lecturer at the University of Sydney, organised a workshop with international speakers to discuss challenges around designing interactions with urban screens.

The exhibition brought together 40 of the most relevant projects from both commercial as well as scientific realms, such as Green Pix (Simone Giostra & Partners), the Yas Hotel (Asymptote Architecture), the Cloud (raisethecloud), Urban Pixels (MIT Media Lab, Smart Cities Group), and Polymedia Pixel (UTS, sense-aware and urban aid). In addition to posters and models the exhibition featured a number of physical prototypes and installations. The central pieces were an invited installation by Adam Somlai-Fischer and the BoxLEDs developed by – an interactive wall of 300 stackable Euronorm boxes equipped with traxon LED units. The BoxLED installation featured different types of content –videos by Catherine Ludwig, an interactive Pong Game developed by Christoph Pacher, and a responsive visualisation showing the behaviour of visitors within the exhibition space. A Sydney-based team of four Design Computing students in collaboration with the Media Architecture Institute developed a digital catalogue for the iPad. Sixteen iPads were featured in the exhibition acting as pixels when not in use and thus serving as physical extension of the BoxLED façade. Visitors were able to take an iPad onto their journey through the exhibition to browse additional information and content about the exhibited projects.

The Biennale was organised by the Media Architecture Institute. The conference and workshops were curated by Oliver Schürer (Vienna University of Technology), the exhibition was curated by Gernot Tscherteu ( and Martin Tomitsch (University of Sydney). More information about the Biennale is available online at:

The text can be downloaded with pictures here.

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