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SONAR INSTALLATION: Do the sounds of the street have shape?

1st Parametric Design Workshop (Role: Co-organizer and co-instructor)

Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP), Brazil

Design team: Ana Rolim, Diego Pessoa, Erica Costa, Rafaela Teixeira, Robson Canuto and Victor Sardenberg

Featured on Archello webpage

This installation was created during the 1st Parametric Design Workshop at Universidade Católica de Pernambuco (UNICAP), Brazil, where 25 architecture students and young architects explored Grasshopper and Rhinoceros software. Led by professors Victor Sardenberg, Ana Luisa Rolim, and Robson Canuto da Silva, the workshop aimed to construct low-budget installations on UNICAP's campus. "Sonar" was one of these projects.

Unlike typical Brazilian campuses, UNICAP's campus integrates traditional urban blocks in downtown Recife. The "Leisure Street" serves as a bustling social hub, hosting various activities and conversations.

The concept behind "Sonar" was to capture the dynamic relationships of "Leisure Street" through its ambient noise. Fifteen-second recordings were taken at 15-meter intervals along the street, condensed into one. Using Processing software, these recordings were converted into 3D data resembling a cloud of points. This data was then transferred to Grasshopper.

In Grasshopper, the central portion of the cloud was selected for its complexity and converted into a NURBS surface, scaled to fit the campus corridor. To simplify construction, the surface was fragmented into linear segments to maintain the original sound's curvature.

Constructed over two days, "Sonar" utilized simple materials for cost and time efficiency. Yellow nylon cords were hung from metal tracks on the corridor ceiling and walls, forming the installation's shape. Hand-painted red tips emphasized the sound-inspired design. Located in a bustling corridor, "Sonar" transforms the space, inviting interaction and curiosity from students and faculty, offering a unique tactile experience amid mundane surroundings.

Sounds of a street on campus are converted into shape and brought into the architecture school building

Street where sounds were captured

View from "Leisure Street", a lively spot where all campus users interact

Project phases

The sounds captured on Leisure Street were conveyed into 3-dimensional data: A cloud of points in virtual space

Construction process

Sonar helps neutralize the chaotic collage of elements in the corridor and, more importantly, bring the vivid atmosphere of the street into the building,

View from hallway adjacent to corridor

Sonar provoked both estrangement and interaction among students and faculty, who were attracted by the fun tactile experience it offered

Nylon cord pieces were hung on a perforated screen attached with zip ties to metal tracks on ceiling and walls

Approximately 4,000 pieces of nylon cords were cut to match dimensions provided by software

Sonar sculptural effect

The tips of the cords were hand painted in red color to emphasize the expression of the shape of the sound

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