Media Facades (again)
Singapore 26th August 2013
It’s time for that subject again… It pops up time and again in our projects and as it happens today I had design discussions for two of my projects that call for one. While media facades are pretty impressive when well executed and can be breath-taking and mesmerizing at first, I keep thinking whether all this is really needed. After a while it becomes sort of boring and disappears as a background “noise”. Driven most of the time by commercial motives, one can only wonder if the monetary outlay for such installation, which runs in the millions of dollars, is worth the investment. I would assume most have done their calculations in regards to return on investment, but I think lot of it has become ego-tripping and real return on investment is very hard to quantify.
Some of these facades are “rented out”, in other words the media façade or parts of it, are being leased to interested retailers or advertisers. That is a measureable income for the owner of the façade. It would be interesting to see some of these returns. In many cases the facades are just a flashing beacon to attract money spending (hopefully) customers into the building; but I would venture to say that that is a very intangible, very difficult to measure return. Yes rent from the tenants and retailers can be calculated, but I am sceptical about the payback. It is likely to be very similar to some LED installations where the premium cost of investment in the LED conversion has payback periods that are well beyond 5 years. Many of the calculations furthermore are based on assumptions which generally are optimistic to justify the cost.
But most of all do we need it? We are now seeing companies or conglomerates trying to outdo each other…bigger, better. My gut feel is that we will soon reach some saturation (not in the least also driven by sustainability and environmental demands) and that we will see the return to simple and basic façade lighting. We will not need all these media flashing advertisements as it will probably flash up on your wifi connected mobile device anyhow. Back to basics!
Light Watch 4-141: Here are some of the big media facades from Singapore and Jakarta. Ion Orchard, Orchard Central, Contadines, Taman Anggrek…take your pick…