City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Stadsmuziek, by Akko Golenbeld

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Difficult to resist giving this one a quick nod, given the subject. A physical model of Eindhoven rolled onto a drum and attached to a piano. A form of player piano with the city as the score. [By Akko Golenlbeld for Design Academy Eindhoven, exhibited at Salone del Mobile in Milano.]


Instantly triggers all kinds of unruly thoughts and references about city symphonies from Copland to Cage to Flying Lotus, as well as other hybrids of city modelling, fabrication and player piano rolls, but it also makes me think about other attempts to 'capture' the sound of the city itself and re-present as artwork, such as Walter Ruttman's Weekend (read a PDF by Jesse Shapins about that here) or his Die Sinfonie der Grossstadt.

Although the end result is perhaps a little frivolous at first glance, the translation to physical form is very appealing—as is often the case, the creation of physical form by digital means (assuming that this was produced through digital craft rather than through exacting hand-made craftsmanship) lends the realisation more weight, in every sense, as compared to purely digital representation. Although the physical and aural realisation is bounded literally by the form of the piano, it also makes you wonder what other noise-makers could the city be attached to? And what other aspects of the city's manifestation could be modelled, fabricated and sounded out—other built form such as road and rail would provide linear drones, perhaps; what about soft infrastructure as well as hard?. Physical city models such as these are often used to test development applications for urban insertions, in terms of shadows created, ruined sightlines and so on, but Stadsmuziek suggests, albeit metaphorically, we should also ask what proposed urban development would sound like.

Ironically, despite its dependence on built form as input mode, such translations might enable a way of thinking about the way the city is realised beyond simple viewsheds. A generative piece, not least in terms of further thoughts …



And, as physical city models increasingly abound, what would different cities sound like. What if you ran this baby through it?


Stadsmuziek by Akko Golenbeld [Designboom]

[via Paul Schütze – thanks]


6 responses to “Stadsmuziek, by Akko Golenbeld”

  1. dave Avatar

    wow this is amazing! so talented – it reminds me of Oxford Architects


  2. Hugh Griffiths Avatar
    Hugh Griffiths

    This is really interesting – an experiment that potentially explores connections between musical harmony and visual aesthetics. Or is that visual harmony and musical aesthetics? Fascinating …


  3. Robert Orson Avatar

    Wow that Shanghai model city is absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like it before. It is so intricate and detailed with so many different model buildings. I wonder how much time, how many people, and how many man hours it took to build that thing. Truly breathtaking.
    Robert Orson
    Zeiss scopes


  4. Columbus Architect Avatar

    What an amazing idea. Not only does it switch on another sense not normally associated with architecture but it does in a cool tactile way. I love the mechanism for playing.


  5. Elite Concrete Restoration Avatar

    Absolutely Amazing idea!


  6. yogawidnyana Avatar

    wow , it’s so interesting .. May I study how to make it sir?? I would glad if you answer my question..


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