Sunscriber 2021, Austria, Graz

an ‘inscription device’.

In the book A Friendly Alien Peter Cook and Colin Fournier define Kunsthaus Graz’s BIX Facade as ‘an experimental laboratory’. This project aims to actualize previously untapped experimental features of the Facade and integrate its exterior media display to a technological apparatus -which we call Sunscriber- powered by a system designed on the basis of sustainability principles. The working time of the BIX Facade solely depends on how much photovoltaic energy it has harvested in that day.

Sunscriber consists of three main design components: a set of photovoltaic cells installed on top of the Needle of the building, a computer program that will monitor the amount of energy collected by the photovoltaic cells, and the already existing illumination infrastructure of the BIX Facade consisting of 946 light bulbs and BIX Simulator. The computer program functions as a control interface and facilitates the visual renderings appearing on the exterior surface of the Facade. This control function treats the energy levels it detects on the photovoltaic cells as its referential index. The fundamental working principle of this integrated system is to regulate the energy used for the illumination of the Facade by the use of a solely solar activated infrastructure. The energy regulation features of the Sunscriber are coupled with the design interface and aesthetic features of what the Facade will be showing. Depending on the energy levels of a given day collected by the photovoltaic cell measures, the visual composition of what the Facade shows, i.e. its morphological contours and illumination brightness, and this show’s timespan, i.e. the time length and frequency of the Facade’s lights to stay on takes shape on a nightly basis. The fact that the lights of the Facade won’t be on all night creates a striking effect on the people passing by the building but also Graz’s nighttime urban silhouette. These possible interruptions on the material and symbolic expressions of Kunsthaus Graz via the BIX Facade provokes questions regarding alternative futures for the regulation of energy use by public landmarks, coming up with novel solutions to tackle with the light pollution urban landscapes radiate and new ways of articulating these questions with contemporary art, architecture and design practices.




Building or project owner : City of Graz Kunsthaus Graz AG

Architecture : Johanna Digruber, Daniela Fritz, Herbert Hazmuka, Hans Kaponig, Eduard Kölbl, Peter Löcker, Florian Lohberger, Ernst Plank, Herwig Stern, Bernd Priesching, Christian Probst,

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci

Lighting control software : Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier

Interaction design/ programming : Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier

Project sponsor/ support : Energie Graz, PICHLERwerke, Fronius.


Facade type and geometry (structure) : 946 40-watt fluorescent lamps of the kind commercially available, each with a 40 cm diameter on a 900 sq metre surface, ca. 45 m in width and 20 m high, are behind the acrylic sheets, each able to be guided and dimmed by means of software, and to flash 20 times per second.

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : Animations, pictures and texts with a resolution of 56 x 25 pixel can move across the facade. For the creation of a generative project for the BIX, basic knowledge of the Code Java and/or Processing IDE programming languages are required.

Description of showreel : Sunscriber is basically an ‘inscription device’ (here we operationalize Bruno Latour’s concept from his book Science in Action, 1987) that trans-mediates the materiality of sun beams into human scientific language with the dual use of an electronic infrastructure and digital media interface. It shows how much energy it harvested, how much energy it can still use, how long it will stay on based on the weather conditions of a given day. Sunscriber literally scribes the sun, records and screens its daily activities reaching Graz landscape on the BIX Facade while it harvests the the energy to do such inscription from the same source. It’s a simple, close-circuited system that unpacks a mundane -but vital- cosmological event, i.e. sunbeams reaching surface of the Earth.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction

Tools developed : Custom processing app.

Tools used : 12 Solar panels, Fronius solar charge controller, Custom energy monitoring system.


Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci, Ulrich Reiterer

Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci, Ulrich Reiterer

Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci

Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci

Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci

Onur Soenmez, Jonathan Hoier, Mehmet Ekinci, Ulrich Reiterer