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BCP Affinity, Banco de Crédito building, San Isidro, Peru

Issue 81 October / November 2014 : Architectural : Façade

Conecept and Lighting Design: CLAUDIA PAZ & NICHOLAS CHEUNG

BCP Affinity, an interactive three-dimensional façade installation in Lima created by designers Claudia Paz and Nicholas Cheung, treats a bank building as a canvas for creativity.

The BCP (Banco de Crédito) building in San Isidro is a building of its time. Bank façades have traditionally been conservative architectural icons that project serious messages of establishment. The original 1970’s architecture was a brutalist design, reflecting the strength and stature of Peru’s oldest banking institution. In the 1990’s, it evolved into a concrete fortress due to the terrorist activity blighting the country. The latest 2014 incarnation reflects a modern and progressive Peruvian society.

The original concept was to design the façade’s lighting to enrich the architecture. The Architect, Felipe Ferrer, had a unique concept for the architectural design that reflected the client’s new branding message of openness and transparency. Working with this architectural concept lighting designers for the project, Claudia Paz and Nicholas Cheung, suggested an ambitious approach that provided a deeper significance to the city; offering a meaningful connection between the bank and the people.

The proposal was to create an iconic public artwork installation with an interactive façade to directly engage the general public, suggesting new ways of seeing, feeling and experiencing one’s own perception of one’s self.

The vision was to give people the opportunity to feel free and explore new sensations, creating a permanent installation on an urban scale instead of a media façade.

Exploring the installation people can feel how the personal scale is expanded to the architectural scale. The result is an awe-inspiring experience of light, sound, speed and generative architecture that is directly related to one’s own body movements.

The installation consists of three main parts - the 3D façade canvas with six layers of LEDs (covering 50 x 19 x 1.2 metres), the interactive LED outdoor podium (1.7 x 1.5 metres) with multi-touch sensors and the interactive and lighting control systems.

The public facing podium has a direct visual relationship with the façade, creating an impressive but unifying experience. Stereo speakers flank the slanting podium, which delineates the space for expression.

The podium senses 3D depth and provides a touchless interface that transmits body movements, via live interactive programming, onto the 3D facade.

Each interactive show is based on natural phenomena that are designed to evoke a childlike engagement in adults. One forms a personal relationship with the experience that arouses different emotions in different people. Each show has a unique interface that intuitively steers you to express yourself. Much like a musical instrument, people generate their own composition but smart algorithms are working in the background ensuring a beautiful encounter.

The façade design consists of six layers of LEDs, the outermost using large Philips ArchiPoint nodes that are daylight visible; these are located on the end of 532 perpendicular poles in a 19 x 28 grid. The next five layers of LEDs are finer points of light, held in strings of ten LEDs using Philips Flex MX. There are two deliberate grids; one bright, bold and sparse for dramatic moments, the other concentrated and subtle for nuanced sculptural effects. In total there are 26,182 RGB addressable fixtures.

A slanting monolithic podium rises seamlessly from the plaza’s stonework, an array of Sensacell LED panels are diffused to provide an inviting but impressive representation of the façade at a human scale. Multi-touch electrostatic sensors detect a presence on the podium. A network of interactive servers remotely process the live input data, returning the interactive content simultaneously to the façade and back to the podium LEDs.

BCP Affinity is a permanent interactive art installation and reliability is vital since it represents the client’s image. The main servers run together with back-ups, which seamlessly replace their counterparts in an event of a failure. The corporate client can be assured that their installation is always ready to start according to their schedule.
Ultimately all the technology is designed to become transparent, leaving only a magical experience and feelings evoked by the encounter.


Talking to… Claudia Paz

Why do you do these kind of projects, what is your motivation?

My motivation is the people, make them explore new experiences, feel emotions, if I can take a sigh from them I will be happy. I think this installation opens your mind to creativy. I do this for the new generation, my little girl of five years old now. This generation has to grow up seing wonderful things, to always push themselves to explore new ways of creativity. In my country we don’t have the chance to see much modern art, we don’t have lots of museums were we can get insipired seing a painting by Picasso, Monet, Dali, Miro... or new interventions in art... we are trying, yes, but we still don’t get where we should be to make a social improvement on culture and creativity.

I want to help people get insipired that believe everything is posible and open their mind to creativity. A space where you can get involved with an experience and forget the rest. Give the city a building that is alive and powered by the emotions of the people, different people. We did it once with the National Stadium. The BCP Affinity is (from my point of view) more ambitious because it is for anyone and everybody to join in!

Where do you find inspiration?

I like to make trips around the world, visit other countries and cities, know new people, talk to them, go to museums, see some art and installations. This is where I get my inspiration.

How much time did this project take?

BCP Affinity has been a project two years in the making, from initial concepts to delivery. As always we form a strong connection with the client, involving them in the process, revealing the installation’s potential during development and inviting the client and the architect to participate in our vision.

How big was the multidisciplinary team to work on this project?

For BCP Affinity we needed a large group of professionals involved - Sound Designer: Neil Spragg / Future Sound Design; Interactive Programmer: Chris Plant / Colour Burst; e:cue programmer: Ruby Rubenstahl; Philips CK programmer: Scott Dellaire; Fixture modificactions from CK Philips lead by Tomas Sandoval; Nicholas Cheung to integrate the design and interactive hardware and software in London and lead the design and manufacturing of the podium in the UK; Cesar Castro from Peru, who in charge of the design of the technical & control specification and to lead the onsite team, coordinate with the multidisciplinary team all the technical, software, control specifications to make the project happen.

Why did you decide to design a tridimensional mesh for this facade?

From a formal point of view, the architect decided only to cover the building with a glass wall so, instead of having something so ortogonal and boring, we proposed to have six layers of LEDs to transform the building at night making organic shapes round the edges so it looks more alive than static.

We wanted to create depth in the lights to add a touch of reality surpassed by anything we have tried before. When the people look up, because of the angle and the place that the podium is located, they will feel inside the tridimensional space.

What is your favourite thing about this project?

The fact that any person, regardless of social class, education or heritage, can enjoy the latest technology at the tip of their fingers to stimulate their creativity. What we gave to the city is a gigantic interactive art piece, that links the people to the landscape.


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