Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary
The Drawing Center
35 Wooster Street, New York
Through April 8
Though best-known as a composer, Xenakis trained as a civil engineer in Greece and travelled to Paris in 1947, where he ended up working in the studio of Le Corbusier. His most famous building design was the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. In this work, Xenakis was able to fully explore the mathematics of hyperbolic paraboloids, and how music could be applied to built form.
-Excerpt from The Architects Newspaper
It’s been just about a week since our first session (Architecture in Combination with Music), and despite an extremely interesting presentation by Mani Mani (www.fishtnk.com) on his Tunable Sound Cloud, I still have questions on what it means to combine architecture and music. Granted this is a rather old debate, but judging from the number of projects that use some aspect of music or sound to drive the design, it seems to still be an active one. So here it goes.
Firstly, what is the role of music in design? Is it purely to produce data that can be fed into a geometry producing script? Can any of the emotional content of the music be revealed in the design? Should it be? And secondly, are there any practical advantages to having music as a design driver?
I’d say the most solid connection between music and architecture comes from the world of acoustics. The idea is that acoustically driven forms will enhance the performance (or at least try to), and conversely, every aspect of a given geometry can be valued in terms of how much it contributes to that performance. Unfortunately, this is a very idealized state and any acoustician will tell you that it’s just not that simple. It also completely ignores the content of the music.
Maybe there’s a kind of organizational principle hidden inside the rhythmic structure of fugues? Who knows….?