A few months ago, a New York journalist rang me up, asking about that LED advertising barge that had started running along the Hudson and East Rivers as a floating billboard.
I told the guy I was not surprised many New Yorkers hated the thing, but said that was potentially just the start of what was coming, with entire buildings in higher profile locations likely to be clad in full color LEDs.
This has happened in districts and along some downtown waterfronts in Chinese cities, already. A planned and approved development in Taipei, however, appears to push the possibility to the extreme.
Taipei Twin Towers in Taiwan’s main city is pretty much entirely clad in media facades and LED ambient lighting. The development would rise above the city’s main commuter rail station.
The new buildings will be built over the top of the existing station, combining retail, offices, a cinema, and two hotels; meanwhile the plazas will be unified and redeveloped.
“The neighbourhood surrounding the building includes a mixture of small, human-scale buildings and larger towers,” says the Netherlands-based design firm. “MVRDV’s proposal combines these two contextual scales. When experienced from up-close, the main visual impact of the buildings will be provided by the connected “plinths” of small stacked blocks housing retail, with each proposed to house different retail outlets and thus contain different identities.”
“ Above, larger blocks complete two towers of 337 and 280 meters, providing the dominant impression of the buildings when seen from afar. These larger blocks house the offices, cinema, and two hotels: one targeted at young, trendy travellers crowning the East tower and the other focusing on the luxury market crowning the West tower.”
The LED facades continue inside the buildings, as well, for retail storefronts.
The complex is at the construction award stage, apparently past zoning approvals. It has been slowed down over concerns one of the companies that was selected to build the towers had business ties to mainland China. That raised concerns about a Chinese company having deep access to Taiwanese infrastructure, like its rail system.
This project looks visually amazing, but I’m thinking an awful lot of metropolitan areas would stop this sort of thing at the design drawings stage – over concerns with light pollution and worries about turning even residential districts into local versions of Times Square.
It is NOT a building I’d want to see rise across the street from me, or across the a lake or bay. The folks in NYC up in arms about an LED billboard barge will be apoplectic when a couple of office blocks rise up in Long Island City, clad in LED modules.
I am in Taipei this time next week, for Touch Taiwan, and will be curious to hear the local point of view on this.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.