On display at the University of Applied Arts Vienna is the exhibition Brain City Lab by Wolf D. Prix, design principal and CEO of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU.
In 2007, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU started Brain City Lab as a large-scale research project with the scope to advance new strategies for urban development. It was initially inspired by a thesis formulated by the neuroscientist Wolf Singer suggesting analogies between the architecture of the human brain and the city.
Using this comparison as a point of departure, Brain City Lab has formulated a computer based research model for the development of complex urban structures, and is progressing towards a new urban planning strategy. The first two stages have been presented at the Architecture Biennale of Venice and at the NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] in Tokyo; now, with this exhibition at the Sliver Gallery at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU is showing the most recent findings in an interactive display.
The functionality of the brain that enables it to successfully recognize, store and predict patterns of impulses (i.e. to think) are the basis for an investigation on how the understanding of these working principles can be applied in the field of urban planning.
Brain City Lab, Stage One
A first intermediate result of this interdisciplinary research was presented at the 11th Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2008. The exhibition was centered on the animated simulation of an early rule-based urban development scheme by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, a project for Melun-Sénart near Paris of 1987. The installation visualized how the urban pattern continuously changes according to the flow of information and the local conditions within the topographical model of the city.
Brain City Lab, Stage Two - Figures With No Ground
The second presentation took place at the NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC] in Tokyo in autumn 2009. The basic layout of a virtual city, generated by merging the urban grids of Istanbul and Brasilia, was mapped on a surface equipped with an optical tracking system. In the real-time interactive simulation with animations and sound effects the visitors could trigger variations in the evolution of the virtual city, visible as projections on the topographical model.
Brain City Lab - Third presentation at the Sliver Gallery of the University of Applied Arts Vienna
In this installation the visitors interact with a section of the Brain City Lab research model. As in the previous exhibitions, the algorithms that generate the ephemeral patterns on the virtual cityscape are based on principles of organisation that are borrowed from neuroscience. The visitors can act as emitters or as attractors of visual streams of particles representing the flow of information and energy, so that their position and movement activate the feedback systems in the flow and create new centers and connections within the virtual city. The urban pattern evolves in some places and decreases in others: as new centers are formed, others become smaller or disappear altogether.
The exhibition will be held 18 May to 10 June at:
Venue: University of Applied Arts Vienna, Sliver Gallery, Lichthof 1,
Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna, Austria