Year of conception: 2007

Brussels' Dexia Tower

15.08.07 - 21.10.07 from sunset to sunrise

Commissioner: Dexia
Artists: LAb[au]

Copyright images: Artists: LAb[au] - Architects: Philippe Samyn & Partners, M & J.M. Jaspers - J. Eyers & Partners - Lighting engineer: Barbara Hediger

There are many ways to think about media facades and their role in the urban contemporary landscape; one of them is to consider their most common element 'light' as a medium and content in itself. The chrono.tower project addresses this conception of light to propose an architecture of light.

The 'chrono.tower' project takes as its starting point Brussels' 145m high Dexia tower, from which all 4200 windows can be individually illuminated by RGB-led bars. Rather than considering the fa├žades of the building as an immense screen-like display, having a resolution of 45 x 160 pixels, the project expresses its very medium 'light' by the parametric relation between the basic units of time and the primary colours of light where: hours=red, minutes=green and seconds=blue.

This time-based process results in three evolving colour surfaces continuously filling the building

facades: for each second a floor of the building gets illuminated in blue, for each minute in green and for each hour in red. This process leads to floors illuminated simultaneously by two or three colours looming up the secondary colours yellow, cyan and magenta. Before midnight, hours and minutes have an upward progression, while seconds have a downward progression. This progression increases the intensity of the tower illumination as time progresses towards midnight. At midnight the tower appears completely in white, as all the three RGB colour surfaces overlap and fill the facades. From midnight on, the process is inverted and the progressive subtraction of light results in a light migrating successively to the top of the tower.

This changing light intensity according to time gives the process a symbolic status. Seen from a 'light' point of view the time until midnight is the ending (getting darker = loss of light) of a day and the starting (getting brighter = gain of light) of another one. In regard to this state the process inverts this relation, increasing light as night falls and decreasing it as day rises. An inversion which creates a white pulse at midnight announcing the new day and from which moment on the light progressively 'returns' to the sky as daylight returns.

The project relies on a prevalent coupling of light and time: as a process it brings up our own relation to light, our circadian cycle. This biorhythm is based on the cycle of a day and mostly on the course of the sun. But modern man, and most of the entire metropolitan citizen, has lost this natural influence, since the introduction of artificial light and by global mobility. This doesn't implicitly mean that s/he hasn't a rhythm anymore. On the contrary the project suggests a color-light cycle giving this relation a contemporary and urban expression by means of artificial light.

This systematic and semiotic approach establishes the tower as a medium of light: as a medium it communicates nothing other than its own construct.

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