Linz is the European Capital of Culture 2009. Some 150 projects, exhibitions and events are planned, and a series of building projects will be completed. The new Ars Electronica Center (AEC), Austria’s media art laboratory for digital art and media culture designed by TREUSCH architecture, was opened at the beginning of the year. It stands on the left bank of the Danube like a coarsely pixelated crystal, shimmering in splendid colours at night.
The new building was simply superimposed on the old AEC building dating from 1996, an architectural structure of questionable relevance to the new media and virtual reality. “I didn’t want the AEC to look like a patchwork of old and new,” says Andreas Treusch, “so we covered all the old building components in a new, homogeneous layer. That means that the glass facade is an envelope, but also a surface for communicating with the outside.” Each inpidual glass panel is a size XXL colour pixel and can be inpidually controlled or programmed. The coloured light enters the glass panels through LED strips. In order to achieve a better effect, cast glass was used: “Of course this is more expensive, but it distributes the light much better than conventional glass.”
The interior of the building also allows for a variety of uses: exhibition spaces, foyer, Futurelab and the specially developed Virtual Reality Theatre offer plenty of flexibility for the day-to-day running of the museum. The interiors, packed with technology, are muted in design. Only in the stairs, bridges and ramps has the architect made powerful use of colour, employing the access elements as a bright yellow orientation system. The forthcoming exhibitions and performances will show whether this interface between art and architecture works.