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Coloring the Future: LEDs or Paint?


By Jill Pilaroscia

More items for Color + Design

LEDs could replace paint as the future of color in architecture.

Take the Busan Cinema Center in Busan, South Korea, created by the architects at Vienna based Coop Himmelb(l)au. The center opened in September 2011.

Busan Cinema Center
Photos: © duccio malagamba via Jill Pilaroscia

The Busan Cinema Center has the world's longest cantilevered roof.

This building is an architectural feat in more ways than one.

The structure includes an impressive cantilevered steel roof that is 85 meters long—twice as long as the wing of an Airbus.

Known simply as the "Big Roof," the structure earned the Guinness World Record for the Longest Cantilever Roof.

"Once we [start building] architecture like aircraft wings, we will no longer need columns," said Wolf D. Prix, co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of  Coop Himmelb(l)au. 

Busan Cinema Center

More than 40,000 LED bulbs light the colorful underbelly of the wing at night.

The engineering involved in this kind of build is fascinating, and has even garnered an International Property Award in Leisure Architecture.

We are interested in the colorful underbelly of the wing, which features more than 40,000 LED bulbs that light up at night.

The overhead field of color is the architectural focal point of the complex, which includes a series of indoor and outdoor spaces focused on the experience of film.

Lights, color, action! A video by Coop Himmelb(l)au shows its colorful creation at South Korea's Busan Cinema Center.

The roof itself becomes a projection screen made up of  transparent glazing and metal mesh structures to show off color.

At night, the LED screen breaks up the solidity of the building and evaporates into a sweep of colorful animations of fluid dynamics.

Bucking the Trend

It bucks the trend of colorless glass and steel and, instead of relying on the colorful lights of advertisers, incorporates the visitor's experience of color directly into the building.

Busan Cinema Center interior


Ever-changing overhead views show a continually changing sweep of colorful animation.

Perhaps the dreaded future of cities packed with colorless metal buildings will be rescued by this increasingly cheap, flexible and dynamic technology, which allows for modern applications of color.

With such an amazing screen/building now up and running, let's hope that motion graphic and video artists are given the opportunity to create site-specific colorful works individual to that screen. 


Jill Pilaroscia

“Life in Color” is co-authored by architectural color consultant Jill Pilaroscia (pictured), BFA, and creative writer Allison Serrell. Pilaroscia’s firm, Colour Studio Inc., is based in San Francisco. A fully accredited member of the International Association of Color Consultants, Pilaroscia writes and lectures widely on the art and science of color.



Tagged categories: Colour Studio Inc.; Commercial Buildings; Performance Halls

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