music for architecture

A cool NPR story – How One Band Turned A Ghost Town Into A Giant Recording Studio:

In August of 2011, the three members of the Danish band Efterklang, dressed in survival suits, loaded a small recording studio worth of equipment onto an open boat docked on the island of Spitsbergen. Soaked by rain and rough seas, the boat pushed off into the fjord that separates the town of Longyearbyen from their destination: Piramida, a former Russian coal mining settlement abandoned by the state-held company that ran it in 1998.

…Piramida promised the cleanest slate imaginable. There were no people in the town, just crumbling evidence of former occupants and their lives. The plan was to take recording equipment — mallets to bang on whatever they could find, microphones and flash recorders to document the noises they made — and return home with raw sound they could twist and turn into a new album.

…For musicians obsessed with sound, Piramida offered unimaginable opportunities: to turn every object within sight into a musical instrument; to turn an entire town, in effect, into a recording studio.

Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50 percent of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed. Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.


Flickr user, Disco Jim, has a nice gallery of photos documenting his expedition up into the ghost tower.

And here’s a cool video documenting a similar bit of urban exploring:

Minisode 2: Urban Vertical Splunking from C on Vimeo.

From Riding Out The Economy (click through for more pics & info):

In 1997 Thailand, especially Bangkok, was hit hard by the Asian Financial Crisis. Much like the bursting of the housing bubble in the States that inspired this website, the Thai Baht collapsed in 1997 due to a serious overextension of real estate. During the earlier years of the 90s, Thailand was the largest growing economy in the world, growing over 9% annually and speculators were going wild. Ghost towers are scattered throughout the city and major roads are flanked by half finished pylons ready to become super highways. Unfortunately, Thailand was also taking on a lot of foreign debt, bankrupting the country and causing the baht to collapse.

The decaying corpses of the 1990’s prosperity are a bit sad. A blemish protruding from an otherwise youthful city. They stand, usually taller than their neighbors, like blackened elephants in the room- a reminder that Bangkok isn’t the first world. Though the nearly furnished residences in Sathorn Unique are evidence that at one point it was on its way. There were toilets and bath tubs! I can only imagine. Anyway, anyone trying to truly get off the beaten path on their back-pack trip through Asia should see if they can make the pilgrimage to the top of Sathorn. It will be one of the few adventures that no one else on Khao San will be talking about. Plus, the view really was breath taking.

sathorn Arch
This is an early rendering from Rangsan and Pansit Architecture Co. Ltd., the firm that designed the Sathorn Unique tower. I’ve contacted them on the off chance they might share some renderings or blueprints. I’m keenly interested in seeing more of the planned future that might have been the alter-fate of the ghost tower.

From their site:

Sathorn Unique Tower is our first residential project in downtown Bangkok. The tower is 49 storey with the total of 659 residential units and 54 retails, located only less than 200 meters from BTS: Taksin station. Sathorn Unique Tower is also located at the edge of old commercial town of Charernkrung meets the new international business zone of Silom-Sathorn roads. It sits on the a horse-shoe blend which is considered as the best place for overlook at the Bangkok’s grand cityscape and the charm of the Chaopraya river.

– Sathorn notes, 2012

I never did hear back from the architects. Maybe they don’t read english or perhaps they’ve long since abandoned the project of Sathorn Unique…

There’s an architecture to music. Rhythm imposes structure, partitioning the timeline into grid-like slices. Deep low-end builds out the foundation onto which the drum kit is assembled, it’s percussions the scaffolding joins & terminals. Pattern & melody wrap the structure in a harmonic skin, textured and colored and expressive, all filtered & flanged. Sits in a space of depth and breath, echoing reflections from distant surfaces across the landscape. The rhythm, the notation, the start & stop & space between, the skitterhop wiggles and booming 8’s. The House.

Dreams communicate through music. A bubbling & bottling of the sub-conscious, often fermented & flavored. Emotion takes on more character, greater viscera and presence, expressing the numinous depth of humanity & life & love, subtly, oddly, and in the middle of the night alone in bed suddenly awake to the darkness. Good music can offer a warm blanket, a friend, or simply a light to hold to. All important things to take into the Dreamworld.

– Sathorn notes, 2012