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Singing architecture: an installation at the Szczecin Philharmonic Hall.

Designed by Estudio Barozzi Veiga in 2014, the Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin has become a true landmark. Observed from the outside, the Philharmonic presents an expressionist mindset: here Barozzi and Vega used geometry to give shape to a new rhythmic composition that conveys feelings by balancing massiveness and verticality.

Coming inside, what reveals to the eyes astonishes. Built on the site of another auditorium that was destroyed during the Second World War, the venues measures 13,000-square-metre and comprises a symphony hall with a capacity for 1,000 concert-goers, a smaller venue for chamber music with space for 200 spectators and a range of meeting rooms for conferences and exhibitions. The white spiral staircase with thick white balustrades rises from one side of a large foyer, leading to the upper floor concert halls.

It is here, during the MDF Festival (MUSIC.DESIGN.FORM) that panGenerator has turned this iconic spiral staircase into 35m long / 15m high spatial voice-transforming instrument: "Spiralala - Singing Architecture" installation starts here.

"The audience has been invited to experiment with various spatialized sound effects applied to their vocalizations that were synchronised with the movement of the balls falling along a 35 m long track." says panGenerator "The interaction starts with the insertion of the ball into the microphone. Then recording starts and after the recorded sound stops the ball is released to slide down along the track".

Starring the polish singer Jona Ardyn and directed by Jakub Koźniewski, "Spirarala - Singing Architecture" is a video that records this installation, both in its acoustic and in its visual features. Shot in a classic and minimalistic black and white, as to enhances the purity of the architecture and the incorporeal lightness of the sound, this video explores how sound might transform space and how space influences sound.

To understand the installation, one must watch the video: as the soprano sings a note, a ball starts rolling all the way down the spiral stair, echoing and light tracing its journey. How does it happen? panGenerator custom built gates with infrared sensors and radio modules, so the sound transformations applied to the recording were synchronized with the current speed and position of the ball. The light trail following the ball has also been created thanks to the sensors and microcontrollers measuring the speed of the ball passing the gates.

"Since we were using five speakers - one per floor, we were also able to achieve spatialization of the sound creating the illusion of the sound falling with the ball. As a finishing touch, we've also used simple projection mapping synchronized with the motion of the ball to make the whole thing more visible for the people standing in the lobby of the Philharmonic."

In a way, this experiment not only is playful and fascinating: "Spiralala" is focusing attention on the architectural feature of the space it is presented into. The staircase becomes the protagonist of the grand Philharmonic: a landmark inside of a landmark, the show inside of a concert venue.

"In the end, we've created a playful and engaging audience-driven audiovisual performance that exemplifies our vision for integrating new media art practice with architecture and breathing the life into static form thanks to digital technology".

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Mentioned project: Spiralala (2018) in Philharmonic Hall Szczecin
Project location: Szczecin, Poland
Client: Szczecin Philharmonic
Director of photography: Hola Hola Film
Direction, video editing and postproduction: Jakub Koźniewski
Sound editing: Krzysztof Cybulski
Video soundtrack: Maciek Dobrowolski
Voice: Jona Ardyn

Poland 2018
Duration: 1'48"