Tired of white walls and soulless lighting? In Washington, in the United States, the Terrell Place building might have the solution: the experimental design company ESI Design has just fitted its halls with high-luminosity LED walls capable of visually interacting with passersby. Baptised “City Scape”, this project includes 158m² of screens embedded in the walls, creating a unique backdrop, from floor to ceiling. Its central point is a screen 24m wide by 4m high, which can be seen from outside the building.
Walking in front of the wall, you can even make cherry blossom fall or bring fireworks to life. Another sequence pays tribute to the city of Washington and its symbolic architecture with statues and scenes that come to life as you pass by. Replete with algorithms, these living frescoes adapt to human activity in the building, like the morning rush and the afternoon lull. Each visual theme reacts to the quantity of movement detected by 14 infra-red cameras that monitor activity around the installation.
A new technological feat or a carefully considered architectural gesture? The purpose of the installation is to create “a feeling of connection between the building’s common areas“, explains Michael Schneider, creative technology designer at ESI. Indeed, the building – Terrell Place – is steeped in history. It bears the name of a civil rights activist, Mary Church Terrell, founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who, in 1951 and aged 87, led a famous protest against segregation at the Hecht department store, built in the same place. Better than a dusty bust, one of the interactive walls pays tribute to her. “The world we live in never ceases to evolve, but our physical media sometimes lack the ability to tell a story, Michael Schneider explains. These LED screen walls are not just a new way of decorating and enlivening a place, they also give us the opportunity to “experience” digital more intensely.”