SOUND REFLEX

2011 M. Arch Studio 5. Design Team: Neil Wiita and Sarah Witkin. Instructor: Jordi Truco  

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Sound Reflex explores the potential for lightweight, kinetic architecture using both analog and digital tools to develop a system of mechanized units.  The process began by testing connections between paper strips to create a laminated, shell-like structure. By changing connection points along a continuous range, we visualize stages of movement of the transformative structure. By rigorously measuring the formal variations that resulted from changes in connection position, we quantify the effects of local movement across a series of many components and from this data, construct a transformative digital model.  Using an assessment of the material performance of dozens of prototypes, we establish a set of limits for the system’s range of motion using just two sliding connections, one parallel near the strip’s edge and one transverse at the center.  At a larger scale, using 4′ long, 1/8″ thick plywood strips, a connection detail is developed by fixing a servo motor to one unit that locks into and glides along a geared acrylic track on the successive unit.

This system serves as the basis for design of a BART enclosure that responds to subway buskers, enriching the playing and listening environment of an urban music phenomena.  A network of audio sensors locates musicians within the space and reposition the structure to allow for multiple listening zones.  Meanwhile, sounds of the approaching BART train are projected digitally from down the tracks into the upper spaces, signaling riders to make their way down to the platform.