Soo-in Yang and David Benjamin of New York's The Living have completed an interesting—and extremely beautiful—public project in Seoul, Korea. Called Living Light, it's a permanent pavilion and glass canopy that registers and communicates air quality in the city. "Our project aims to combine real-time data about the environment with dynamic lighting to create an interactive facade of the future".
Living Light is a building facade of the future that displays air quality and public interest in the environment. It is a permanent outdoor pavilion in Peace Park, across from World Cup Stadium in Seoul, Korea. Air connects all the whole planet without regard to cultural or national boundaries. The air of the city is affected by the air of the region, and city officials recognize concerns about air quality.The city has several existing interfaces to real-time air quality data.The city(Seoul) also has a growing number of facades with dynamic patterns of lighting. Our project aims to combine real-time data about the environment with dynamic lighting to create an interactive facade of the future. We start with a map of the city. We locate the 27 existing air monitoring stations of the Korean Ministry of Environment. We re-draw the neighborhood (gu) boundaries based on proximity to these stations—each shape in this new map encloses the air nearest to one of the sensors. We bend the shape of this new map into a dome-shaped roof for a pavlion. With a parametric model and multi-objective optimization software, we automatically generate and evaluate possible designs based on two goals—best structural performance and least amount of structural material. The automated test produced 25,000 unique designs and evolved a final roof-and-column frame that performs well structurally and uses material efficiently, but is unexpected and different than any rule-of-thumb would suggest. Since the precise geometry, member sizes, and material specifications were already built into the digital model that was tested, it was relatively straightforward to produce the physical construction. Nevertheless, we created dozens of prototypes to test different aspects of the project. Our prototypes, testing, and digital fabrication system allowed us to assemble the project in less than one week. The dynamic facade responds to real-time air quality data and to public interest in the environment. Each night, the neighborhoods light up if their air quality is better today than last year. Every 15 minutes, the map goes dark and then the neighborhoods light up in order of best current air quality to worst.People can send a text message with a zip code to the Living Light Hotline and receive a text message reply with the neighborhood’s current air quality. At the same time, the panel of the requested zip code blinks and the facade becomes a register of collective interest.This structure in a public park not only provides a canopy and a tactile enclosure for citizens, it also suggests that a building facade itself can become a new kind of public space.