This is the Digital Water Pavilion, designed by a bunch of MIT brainiacs for Expo Zaragoza in Spain next year. Its walls are curtains of water controlled by software which, in turn, controls valves that allow the water to make gaps at specific locations.
The pavilion, which will house a cafe, public area, and exhibition space, will be covered by a roof that lowers in the case of too much wind, and the front of the building will be used as a display screen, with text, pictures and patterns all being made by the water.
Liquid pixels is the phrase being bandied about here. "To understand the concept of digital water, imagine something like an inkjet printer on a large scale, which controls droplets of falling water," explains Carlo Ratti, who is the head of MIT's SENSEable City Laboratory.
Magical stuff. The technology behind all of this is so sophisticated that sensors will detect the approach of people and part the water, rather like Moses was meant to have done in the Red Sea, so that they can enter the building at any part of the wall.
The project, which is to be undertaken with about a gazillion partners (check the credits page on the water pavilion's website, it's not dissimilar to the credits in Lord Of The Rings) is to illustrate the potential of digital water as a medium. William J. Mitchell, the head of MIT's Design Laboratory, calls the pavilion "provocative," claiming that it subverts fundamental architecture rules. I'll just sit there open-mouthed and dribble.