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hidden info tower – or the crystal world

Main idea

It’s about using the surface of the Piraeus tower as a screen, to display information to the people taking the ferry, entering the city of Piraeus or the people walking through the neighborhood. It can display any kind of informatin, which  suits the best the area it is facing. Because of its size and its placement at the port the tower can be seen from far as well as from close by. Moreover the tower has been unoccupied for around 30 years and a modification of the inside is not yet plannified. Which makes the facade more valuable than the interior space.

The most valuable surfaces for information areas on the tower, seen from important viewpoints as street crossings, the park, the market place, the ferry arrival, a café…

The info area on the facade has to be seen as a perfect rectangular from a chosen viewpoint. With an anamorphosis effect the imageis acctually distorted, but seen from one point perfectly perpendicular.

The image has to be inscribed in the silhouette of the tower and use as much space as possible on the tower. It can neglect the geometry of the tower, thanks to the anamorphosis deformation.

Which means, some images will be supperposed. The geometry of the facade elements has to adapt to such moments. Will be explained later… Diagram of the information/ image areas on the four sides of the tower.

Sun radiation analyse to design a parametric louver system. It protects from the sun at a certain time of the day. The side oriented towards east will be protected from 10 to 12. This creates a gradient of different width of louvers and different moments in the interior space.

Diagram of louver disposition on the four facades.

Supperposition of the two diagrams.

The louvers become the structural part of the facade and ‘carry’ the LED lights of the media surfaces. Where a LED has to be placed on a louver, the louver changes geometry. So the LED will be oriented towards the viewpoint of the image. Wher two images are supperposed, the louver has to adapt to the two viewpoints.

Geometry manipulation in grasshopper. The different possibilities.

1. red and green points correspond to two different images. shows the areas where a LED light has to be placed on the louver or where the louver has to deform.

2.the louver inclines, perpendicular to the view axis.

3. case of two deformations towards two view axis: where the different points are to close, the folds change geometry from rectangular to triangular, so they can’t overlap.

4.when a light point doesn’t intersect a louver, later has to shift back to catch the light point.

detail drawings of the system: the louvers become a 3d body witha straight back and a folded front. the led lights are placed at the back and shine on the front. a projected point from the led will be seen on the folded surface of the louver and therefore only visible from its viewpoint.

section (3 floors) and detail of plan

changes of depth and light intensity in the thickness of the facade. the crystal world.

some bingo numbers seen from a street crossing. deformation of the louvers visible, when there’s no image overlapping.

part of the rhino file for presentation


hidden media facade – pin up presentation

Hidden Media Facade

Using the surface of the tower as a media screen to display all kinds of media to the people of Piraeus and the passengers taking the ferry to display all kinds of media, depending on what the people need.

The Piraeus tower has a valuable surface for projections through its size and situation at the port; the tower can be seen from far and fragmented from close views.

I analysed the most valuable surfaces on the tower, seen from important viewpoints like squares, street crossings, the ferry terminal… From those viewpoints one should see a precise, rectangular image, which pops out of the volume of the building.

Such an effect can be produced by placing a grid normal to the view axis and projecting it in the direction of the view axis on the tower. Facing the facade, the image is distorted.

The image should be inscribed in the silhouette of the tower and cover as much surface as possible, by keeping a rectangular format.

With the sun radiation analysis I could design a parametric louvres system, which protects the building at certain times of the day. The south oriented part would be protected at 12.00, whereas the east oriented would be protected at 9.00. The whole facade is covered by a gradient of louvres, creating the structural component of the facade.

Having those images from different viewpoints covering a huge surface, means they will overlap. At those points the facade needs to orient itself to the according viewpoint of the image. In order to see one image without being disturbed by another image.

The louvres are the structural component of the facade, whereas the LED lights are distributed on the louvres according to the anamorphosis, geometrical operation. Where a LED is placed on the louvre, the louvre will fold to the viewpoint, from where the LED has to be seen.

In the same time the folding hides the LED of the other images. And looking at the facade from other viewpoints, the images will be totally distorted.

Rhino file


Question: I have to find out which lines don’t intersect with the louvers

Do you know a way to find the lines which are not intersecting with a surface?

The louvers are not covering the entire facade, that’s why some rays from the viewpoints pass without intersecting. I have to find those areas, where the missing rays would intersect with the volume of the tower and make the louvers wider at those areas.

The difficulty is, that the new point list of the intersecting points doesn’t match the list of the vectors(rays) from the viewpoints. I tried some stuff like find the similar points, between intersecting points with the box and the intersecting points with the louvers… and to find the equal vectors to create a boolean list… it’s all a bit tricky and not so elegant.

rhino file


sun radiation study in grasshopper

I applied the sun orientation vectors on points on the facade, to get the normals to the louvers, which will be designed as a next step. The louvers will be combined with the LED system. So the louvers have to follow the distribution of the LED pixels, which are slightly distorted because of the Anamorphosis effect.

Application of a sun radiation plug in for grasshopper. The vectors defining the sun position have to be defined for each facade. I definedthe vectors to their facade through their x and y coordinates.

I made some design decisions, which part of the plan should be especially protected from the sun at what time and distributed the sun vectors in that way.

Grasshopper definition

‘response’ or ‘esquisse more detailed’

- Info Panels become -> distorted LEDs

- Panels against sun and noise become ->structural elements for LED support and sun shading

Mid Term Presentation Info Tower

The location at the harbor is also a gate to the city where people arrive or leave. It is a transition point; the travelers want to gather and need to remember a lot of information: ferry departure time and place, the local time, the weather, events, news… We are nowadays spoiled by all kinds of information and have difficulties keeping it in mind and prioritizing.

Moreover to help financing the facade in this moment of economical crisis, investors can publish their logo, which will only be seen from some view points and therefore not spoil the identity of Piraeus. (By using Anamorphosis effect as explained later).

Two investigation ways: Outside appearance -> Information panels, visibility as a parameter

Inside -> Openings for views

Analyse of strategic target fields on the tower. Photos taken on site from squares, crossings, port…

Media facade, a transparent LED lights mesh can wrap the whole tower and perform the different functions mentioned in the analyse above. It is also a sun shader, by letting light pass through.

Functioning of a media facade: -> LED distance can shift in horizontal and vertical sense -> important for Anamorphosis effect mentioned later.

-> structural mesh supported perpendicular through beams from the slabs, by lenghtening the beams -> sliced opening

Inside view through the media mesh structure and its deformations

LEFT: Anamorphosis effect to differenciate an information surface from a important view point. Possible by shifting the pixel distances.

RIGHT: Sliced openings aggregation

Anamorphosis engine in grasshopper

Rhino file

Use of DLA algorithme to distribute the oppenings randomly around a best point for views on specific locations.

question: to bake coloured surfaces?

As you can see, I could adapt an image on a target surface on grasshopper. Now I tried to bake the coloured spheres to try to render them, but as I’m only using a Preview-button on grasshopper, the coloured spheres are not real objects. So I can’t bake them?

Do you know another way of adding  a colour to a geometry, so I get the coloured objects in Rhino?

GH definition

I played with the DLA code to provoke openings in the otherwise very flat media facade. To generate some clear views on acropolis, parc, water, market(N).

Anamorphosis in Grasshopper in process

Anamorphosis LED Facade

I adapted some anamorphosis effects on the LED facade. So it will create perfectly readable images from certain view points.

Now I can play with the parameters and find other forms than circles, maybe rectangles. And I have to find a way to link those distorted fields and how I can fix the distorted led pixels on the orthogonal junction system. Easy…

Rhino file
GH file

Juncture of a Media Facade

Media Facade on Piraeus Tower

I analysed the structural elements of a typical media facade to find a potential parameter in the system, to adapt to environmental factors like view and orientation. Instead of enwraping the tower with information and cutting the inside of the context, I want to open the facade at some points, by keeping the media facade as one surface.

The LED bars can be placed horizontally and vertically. In my process study I analysed first the horizontal LED bars.

LED bars orientation in the vertical direction

Applied on Piraeus Tower

Media Facade adapted on Piraeus Tower

Research on Media Facade constraints

It’s a thin mesh containing horizontal bars, which carry the LED s. The distance between the bars is the same as the  as between the LED s, which gives the effect of a raster.

There are some size constraints:

maximal width: 4 m

maximal height: 20 m

Which shows the following placement on Piraeus Tower:

Plan and Section of Media Facade on Piraeus Tower, combined with the window system of our greek friends:

This mesh filtrates the sunlight and allows a view outside. But the view is always a bit disturbed by the mesh, it’s transparency is 65%.

So I want to play with dilatation of the horizontal bars, containing the LED s. To create openings in the mesh. and it  might also create some interesting orientations of the projected information to certain spots on the site.

Perspective of a corner

Extruded layers