Leading a tutorial unit of thirteen students in the Engineering & Architectural Design MEng programme at UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, design studio Architecture Social Club was asked to develop a creative brief around the concept of ‘tribal gathering’ and incorporated the elements of sound and interactivity. In two teams, the students’ pavilion designs sought to answer this brief: how can sound and space bring people together?
Triptych by UCLoud
Our team designed and constructed a pavilion that challenges the boundaries of spatial, auditory and tactile senses. The design features a triplet of modular components, triangular structures supported by structural ribs that simultaneously articulate the vertical rhythm of the architecture. Strings run the full height of the interior, an extension of the vessel. The structure is visually simple, but the many layers of sensory stimuli with one’s experience of the architecture adds dimensions to the design.
A vital element of executing the design, beyond the structure that embodies the sound, is the electronic system that articulates and propagates it. A complex network of piezoelectric transducers, contact speakers, as well as software that modifies light to respond to sound stimuli, is indispensable to constructing a space that transcends the spatiality of conventional built structures. Visitors are presented with an array of opportunities to further the simple instrumentality of the harp-and-speaker hybrid structure, to modulate sound and compose unique scores with tools such as pedals and metal rods.
User interaction with the pavilion drives its purpose of challenging sensory perception. Standing before the looming presence of the modular components, the visually disconcerting triangular geometry gives the structure a perhaps illusory impression of scale. Tentatively, one may pluck one of three strings, expecting a singular hum but taken aback by the manifold of sounds that instead emanate from the structure and ebb across the space, finally slowly fading back out into oblivion until another note joins the chorus. Further observations reveal the pavilion holds yet more objects of instrumentation, pedals that modulate the pitch of the string and subsequent echoes, metal cylinders that skew the intonation and resonance of the sound. Lights articulate the modulations of sound, dimming and intensifying with the ebb and flow of the composition. All such modulations add unique character and rhythm to the musicality of the original three-note chords on every modular component, thus inviting visitors to compose their very own score.
Heavy Metal by Tube Love
Heavy Metal is an interactive musical pavilion. Our group, playfully named Tube Love, envisioned the creation of a spirited, inclusive tribe, and as such the concept realised through an open set of partially suspended steel tubular bells spanning over 6 metres, tuned to a pentatonic scale and played through a series of interactive switch and dial schemes. It was made with the process of gathering in mind.
Our pavilion went through many manual iterations before its final design – a canopy of drums to giant swinging pendulums are just a few examples - but to satisfy the ideals of ‘maximum output for minimum input’, electronically driven beaters were chosen instead.
300kg of steel tubes were utilised in the making of the pavilion, and the full making process can be viewed from the video below:
The two pavilions were displayed at UCL’s Here East campus on 13 March 2019, as part of a series of events celebrating the Bartlett’s 100-year anniversary.