Building facade as display with windows as pixels


Oh, Switzerland. Is there anything you can’t do with a modular grid-based layout?

Its more fun if it’s automated.

MIT has done that periodically over the years with its Green Building, which faces Boston across the Charles River. Traditionally this has involved a large team of people arranged in a tree network from an organizer to a floor repeater to individuals manning each room’s light switch. Of course these days it’d be easier to do a permanent installation of remotely-controllable switches, but that would require a lot more up-front investment and not be anywhere as much fun to execute (though it could do more complicated effects/transitions).

As a knitter, embroiderer and occasional animator, I am always impressed by how enduringly delightful it is to treat “anything that is laid out in a grid and has an on/off state” as pixels, and make pictures with them. It’s the same conceptual trick every time (whether the pixels are windows on a building facade, stitches in a knitted fabric or marchers in a marching band), but it’s still a truly wonderful thing, every time.


Reminds me of a book I once bought…

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Note that weaving equals braiding equals change-ringing…

Ithaca College did this with their two dorms (at least from 1999-2004) by putting people in rooms on New Years Eve and switching the numbers at midnight. Not quite as impressive, but really fun when half naked and drunk in the snow.

Here in Budapest the Schönherz dorm does this every year and the results are pretty cool:

right, and of course, the first programmable machines were looms using punch cards:
solid card/hole=
knot of thread A/knot of thread B=
i.e. computer binary before electrical circuits or even Babbage.

in the 80s and mid-90s, there was a Seagrams-esque building in Nashville that would put up holiday and civic messages with letters made by leaving certain office’s lights on all night. It was really cool, but just one config. per message, and they quit doing it, unfortunately. I don’t know if they stole the idea or not, but it pre-dated any of the ones I’d seen IRL or on the internet by quite a while.

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It’s a dorm? But it’s a high school building?

It’s a bad translation. A better translation might be, “Health Vocational School of Vaud”. The “high” in the name refers to the relative level, which is somewhere between high school and university, thus “vocational school”.

My wife went there to study nursing.


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