The connection between music and architecture may seem dissonant, but they share several fundamental values, including rhythm, energy, harmony, and texture. Music is a landscape for the ears, while architecture is a landscape for the eyes, and they both produce a sensory experience. In coexistence, it’s easier to see their kinship: music can set the tone for a room, and often a room is where music is born. Both require compositional processes.
One of the most eloquent music and architecture quotes was expressed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German 18th-century writer —
[porto_blockquote]“Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music.”[/porto_blockquote]
With this notion, we synthesise three buildings inspired by sound and three songs inspired by architecture, exploring how this dynamic can inspire a new perspective from two seemingly different disciplines.
1. MUSIC BOX VILLAGE, NEW ORLEANS
Five years after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the founders of arts organisation Airlift wanted to transform a tired Creole cottage into an establishment that would explore the idea of ‘musical architecture’ — while doubling as a music venue itself. They were inspired by the city’s rich musical history and culture, thus birthing the concept of Music Box Village.
The one-of-a-kind site has various installations, each displaying a creative avant-garde sensibility. Its difference? The structures are designed to be played as instruments — inviting visitors to explore their playground of sound. It creates a sense of community through the concept of architecture inspired by music.
2. PHILIPS PAVILION, BRUSSELS
The Philips Pavilion is a direct example of the convergence between music and architecture. It was constructed for Expo ’58 in Brussels — a large-scale fair to showcase 45 European countries under the concept of “a world for a better life for mankind”.
Electronic manufacturer, Philips, hired prominent architect Le Corbusier in collaboration with Iannis Xenakis, an architect and composer, to construct the building. They wanted to make a structure that could highlight Philips’ post-war technological developments.
The building’s design was directly inspired by Xenakis’ composition of ‘Metastaseis’ and resulted in an ultra-modern structure featuring hyperbolic paraboloid forms.
In the creation stages, Le Corbusier said to Philips,
“I will not make a pavilion for you, but an Electronic Poem and a vessel containing the poem; light, colour, image, rhythm, and sound joined together in an organic synthesis.”
3. HOUSE O, BALI
This three-bedroom home in Mas, Bali, was designed by Alex Dornier. The client is a composer, and Dornier wanted to
[porto_blockquote]“… translate the construct of a single sound wave into an overarching architectural gesture that will define the interior and exterior spatial qualities of the house.”[/porto_blockquote]
This was accomplished through a single line that unites indoor and outdoor arenas, dipping at a third of the perimeter of the second floor. It creates a sense of rhythm, and the movement is accentuated by an exterior waterfall staircase and an interior sunken conversation pit.
To further demonstrate the music and architecture relationship, interiors are rendered with curved timber, which was Dornier’s vision to make you feel like you’re inside an instrument.