About LAb[au]

Rooted in architecture, LAb[au] is a collaborative agency based in Brussels, Belgium, which investigates the potential of information technology in spacetime construction. They have developed an outstanding practice and expertise in digital architecture, art installations in the private and urban spaces, based in a methodology called metadesign, which I will shamelessly summarize as interaction design in the physical space. While being a small team of very smart and cunning people, they have an impressive workpower and i’m very proud of having been accepted as a team member for 4 years.

In 2003 they set up the MediaRuimte, a gallery space specialized in digital art & design which organizes all sorts of fun and interesting events, from exhibitions to residencies, concerts and live performances. Check it out if you are in Brussels sometimes.

The Mission

My core mission as LAb[au] member was to work on a complete overhaul of the 10-year old website of LAb[au].

The objective of LAb[au]’s new online presence – project name: Metalab 2.0 – was to give access to the amazing amount of content the agency produces either itself – theoretical articles, art installations, exhibitions, workshops and lectures – or by others writing about their work – media releases, and be able to navigate seamlessly both in an hierarchical manner or through transversal navigation – thank you hypertext.

The project started in 2006 and went live on July 2009. Yes, that long, but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

The navigation system

The main challenge was double:

  • find an information architecture that would link each project to its “life”: iterations, exhibitions, presentations, publications so that transversal navigation could be possible.
  • resolve through a simple interface the hierarchical and transversal navigation.

The Design

Given the complexity and variety of the content, the interface had to be radically simple and minimal. It is therefore monochromatic and is based on a grid that you can reveal if you hit Alt+g while navigating the content.

There is 3 levels of details: the main menus are filtering stratas, leading to the second level, the datascapes which present the result in a horizontal chart that expands as wide as necessary.

Technique

The Ajax-powered interface is built with html,CSS and javascript (jQuery) and zests of flash where necessary ( video player and the history navigator). The server is a LAMP system that communicates in xml and json with the client.

Credits

I mention this project here because it’s three years of my life that i’m proud of, but the Metalab 2.0 is a production by LAb[au], not pixeline. You trolls can send your love/hate letters onto lab-au(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)lab-au.com as he’s the other mind behind this project.

Flow

Welcome screen

LAb[au] _ hello printscreen
LAb[au] _ hello

Search result presentation screen

LAb[au] _ datascape
LAb[au] _ datascape

Hovering with a mouse on a project tile.

LAb[au] _ datascape (hover) printscreen
LAb[au] _ datascape (hover)

Project presentation screen.

LAb[au] _ project printscreen
LAb[au] _ project

 

 

Printscreen of LAb[au] Metalab 2.0
Metalab 2.0 (printscreen, project f5xf5xf5)