MUURmelaar, a soundscape building by DMOA
DMOA, Maarten Houben,
- MUURmelaar, a soundscape building by DMOA
Designing their own studio is a real challenge for architects, as it is the tangible evidence of their way of creating and understanding architecture. Belgian studio DMOA, known to our readers for their creation of buildings with a great visual impact and an active dialogue with their context, took the occasion to create a really peculiar building.
It is not peculiar in terms of shapes or dimensions, as the volume is harmoniously integrated in the site, slightly sloping towards the park, and offering three levels on the street side and four on the park side. Actually, the real surprise is hidden in its side façade, facing the pathway leading to the public park: this façade converts the movements of passers-by into a dynamic soundscape rich of intriguing sounds and rhythms involving people and stimulating them to interact, as shown in this video:
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This creation was developed by Maarten Houben, a student of architecture at the University of Leuven, for his Master thesis in Engineering, under the supervision of professor Andrew Vande Moere (research group Research[x]Design). “We imagined that the façade itself created the sounds, as if its architectural materials could speak”, said Maarten Houben. To create this effect, specific instruments were integrated within the window frames, like wooden elements acting as a giant xylophone. Whenever a camera, hidden underneath the overhanging roof, notices a passer-by, the 17 window frames are rhythmically actuated by an electronically controlled hammer.
MUURmelaar, which means “mumbling wall” uses domotic elements adapted to the size of the neighbourhood. This way, the façade does not only create sounds, but also adapts them to the movements, directions and speed of each passer-by, creating an unexpected and exciting spatial experience.
This soundscape solution chosen by DMOA turned out to be a great success in the neighbourhood. In the words of Benjamin Denef, of DMOA, “people change their route in order to pass the building. Runners make a little pause, groups of children run up and down the pathway... This is exactly what we imagined: a frivol element that is recognised as an identifying symbol and acts as a meeting place of the neighbourhood.”
MUURmelaar shows the endless possibilities that the new technologies provide us with, that can enrich our everyday lives at our urban level, thanks to solutions that stimulate creativity. In all honesty, we wouldn’t mind going to Leuven to live this experience!
For more information:
Research group: http://rxd.architectuur.kuleuven.be
Architectural office: http://dmoa.be
Location: Leuven, Belgium
Images: courtesy of DMOA