Architectonics of Music

The relationship between music and architecture has been for several years now Steven Holl’s research instrument of choice at Columbia University, by which he pulls his craft and its rules back to a central position aimed at developing the full potential of architecture.

 Music, like architecture, is an immersive experience – it surrounds you. One can turn away from a painting or a work of sculpture, while music and architecture engulf the body in space. “Architectonics of Music” records the sixth in a series of studios taught at Columbia University on music and architecture. They are part of a larger project to develop cross-disciplinary, inspiration-provoking work on new architectural languages. Taught with architect Dimitra Tsachrelia and composer Raphael Mostel, this studio began with a four-week experiment translating a music excerpt into space, material and form. In the first half of the studio, six teams of two students selected works of 20thcentury composers with an eye to the geometric potential of translation to architecture. The second half of the studio focused on transcribing the language experiment at the Center for Contemporary Music Research in Athens, established by Iannis Xenakis.

The students chose from three potential sites for their experiments. Research into music and architecture moves forward at a time when architecture pedagogy is diffused, worn out. Schools of architecture today seem directionless. Postmodernism and deconstruction have passed into history, while the euphoria of technique in “parametrics” promises a lack of idea and spirit, and neglect of the importance of scale, material, detail, proportion and light. Yet we continue to see potential in future architecture as open to experiment and as connected to spirit. While we ask, “What is architecture?” we also ask, “What is music?”