BUDAPEST (HU) - The colourful interior of the new main building at Corvinus University, designed by MCXVI architects, sports a rich array of highly original lighting applications. The most eye-catching of these is an art project – Verba Signa Popularia – by media artist Erika Pasztor, who won a 2006 competition organized under the 'Art Universitas Programme' whereby approximately 1% of the construction costs are spent on art. On the wall of a light well on the third and fourth floors of the building, Pasztor erected a six-metre-high, twenty-metre-wide pixel wall. Thousands of specially designed, ten-cm-diameter synthetic pixels were individually handmade using a vacuum technique. Each pixel contains an RGB Kingbright LED, which combines a relatively low energy consumption (20 mA) with a high light output. Changing colour patterns on the screen depict in real time the proportion of incoming spam/non-spam on the university’s server. Unfortunately, in the absence of any explanatory panel, most of the buildings' users will have to make do with the work's aesthetic qualities.
On the ground floor of the building, opposite the main entrance, is a completely different light wall designed by Gábor Szokolyai of MCXVI architects. Szokolyai was responsible for the interior design of the 50,000 m2 university complex. Together with the Hungarian firm Be Light, he developed an abstract light-clock in which the minutes are arranged horizontally and the hours vertically behind panels of enamelled glass (Emalit). At 00:00 a single LED is illuminated; every minute thereafter another LED lights up and remains flashing for 60 seconds. This is repeated until at 11:59 all 720 LEDs are illuminated. Then the counting begins all over again. According to the architect, the clock matches the vitality of the university and can also be read in two different ways: as a decorative wall or as a practical information system. Given the reactions of passers-by, myself included, the latter is not necessarily accessible to everyone.
In the middle of the building is the hall containing lifts to the offices on the upper floors, which make up a substantial part of the university building. Szokolyai attaches great importance to the entrance to the office floors and so he has drawn attention to the presence of the lifts by means of horizontal rows of LED lights, once again behind Emalit panels, which indicate the position of the lifts. What is usually conveyed via a modest display is done here on an architectural scale.
Finally, Szokolyai placed two objects made from LiTraCon (see A10 #5) in the building: the reception counter in the entrance hall and the lectern in the auditorium, the latter in a white version. Neon lighting behind the elements made of concrete with optical fibre aggregate produces a translucent effect. All in all the university building is well worth a visit to study the various possibilities for integrating sophisticated lighting technology into architecture. (Emiel Lamers)