Second Award | Pop-Ups & Temporary

Soundscape

Aeolus was the Ancient Greek god of the winds. His name is remembered in the Aeolian Harp, an instrument that is played solely by the wind. The traditional Aeolian Harp employs a set of delicate strings which react and hum to the breeze. These strings are stretched over a hollow wooden box for amplification.

Participant  Name: Andrea Ng
University: University of Waterloo
Team Member: Thomas Mahon
Country : Canada

Today the concept of the Aeolian Harp can be found in countless permutations in sound sculptures. This project takes the familiar principles and adds a spatial dimension. Located on the windy shore of the Georgian Bay, this project seeks to expand on the tradition of environmental sculptures and add an architectural element.

The piece uses a series of taut strings tuned to varying notes like the traditional Aeolian Harp. Such vibrating strings are not loud on their own, so the piece uses a grid of metal tubes to amplify the sound and project it to the passage below. The tubes vary in length so as to alter the sound in different areas, causing variations in tone and volume. As a result, the grid of tubes creates a landscape of varying tones underneath, so that the visitor experiences the sound of the installation differently as she or he moves around the passage. The varying lengths of the tube are not arbitrary but based upon the varying topography underfoot, so that the visitor experiences the site in a new way, through a map of sound.

The predetermined influences in this assignment were Killarney Park, playing guitar, and James Turrell. Killarney provides a perfect site, as the undulating terrain of Killarney’s escarpment was major impetus in the direction of the project. The activity of playing guitar was an influence on this project of course through its exploration of sound, specifically related to a string instrument. As well, the tuning of the tubes and strings would be best to function along the framework of the Harmonic Series, an element which factors into guitar as well. James Turrell influences the project in the dramatic exploration of light.

The chosen site is a windswept expanse of exposed rock. The plateau extends from  Killarney Park’s more forested area to the North and reaches into the Georgian Bay. The surface is smooth but uneven and undulating, creating a landscape dotted with small ponds. The unique nature of the terrain inspired a project which incorporates the topography.

The humming ceiling and uneven ground share a clear vertical tension and create dynamic space in between. Two metal planes are welded onto the inside of the walls to form seating. This provides a temporary place of repose for the visitor. Seating is kept minimal as the project is intended more as a passage than a place of comfort. The project is a crossover zone from the forest and the immediate platueau to the shore. The structure seeks to amplify the site without making dramatic change to its use.

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