In The Air, Tonight 2014, Canada, Toronto

Critical Public Data Visualization

Every evening, from February 5, 2014 – March 5, 2014, the LED façade of the Ryerson Image Centre was animated by a blue wave representing wind speed and direction while an intermittent red pulse was triggered by fluctuations in the use of the hashtag #homelessness on Twitter.

By visiting people could read and retweet messages from the (@itat2014) Twitter feed or compose their own. Every message with the hashtag #homelessness amplified the issue online and contributed to a colour change on the building, transforming it into a beacon of common concern.


Building or project owner : Ryerson University

Architecture : Diamond Schmitt Architects

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : Diamond Schmitt Architects

Facade design : Diamond Schmitt Architects with Consullux

Light design : Diamond Schmitt Architects with Consullux

Light hardware (LED hardware) : 300mm GVA Lighting STR9 fixtures with custom sizes and brackets

Lighting control software : DMX by Eflux, OSC

Project co-ordination : Diamond Schmitt Architects

Interaction design/ programming : Robert Tu


Facade type and geometry (structure) : Wraparound façade of variable dimensions consisting of 727 3'x8' backlit translucent glass panels.

Kind of light creation : Custom made full color LED fixtures mounted on custom brackets behind 3'x8' translucent glass panels backlit by 2 fixtures each. The glass panels are frosted to spread the light.

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : Low resolution – 1400 LED light modules (each 15-20 W) are integrated into custom brackets on the exterior of the building which support glass panels. Each panel becomes an illuminated pixel by night; the lighting is programmed to create color flows that travel around the building to emphasize the wraparound façade.

Pixel distance : 1.5' horizontal by 8' vertical

Luminace : Medium brightness - the façade operates after sundown.

Urban situation : This building is just one block away from the centre of the city. It can be viewed locally from street level and from many of the high-rise buildings surrounding it.

Description of showreel : The façade displays our artistic intervention using the façade. We explain the rationale, function, and goals of the project.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction