Šimon Prokop | ARCHestra
The thesis describes parallels between Architecture and Music. Besides transcribing spaces into musical compositions it creates custom software tool ARCHestra. It is made for architects who are also musicians and allows them to sketch in early design phases using improvisation on a musical instrument. A new set of compositional rules based on musical harmony is created.
All musical input is gathered and transcribed into data. Based on the relationship with the musical accompaniment, the improvised melodies are evaluated. The outcome is a set of live parameters which change in time according to the player’s intentions. All this data is also recoded for further design development.
Using the live feed from the musical performance a point-cloud is created. Then all the live parameters are applied to modify it. The list consists of translating, scaling, rotating, applying vector forces, applying spinning forces, skewing, using attractor fields and may include more in further stages. The point cloud is rendered in real-time to provide a visual part of the design feedback.
Then a set of other parameters is applied during the meshing phase. These parameters don’t necessarily need to be live and change in real-time, however if the designer chooses so, even these can be assigned to desired values. The outcome is now a solid object with certain geometrical qualities which can still be changed according to the musical performance and designer’s will.
The last phase of the whole design feedback loop is structural decision making. Each solid shape can be brought close to reality using different parametric algorithms such as cross-sectional curved beams, weaving the mesh faces, shell structure generation or even kinetic structure designs. This phase is more design oriented and the choices made are solely up to the designer. Previously saved data can be used, but not with a preset intention.
We tend to underestimate the significance of other
senses than visual in architecture. At some point only
images and photos form our opinions on architecture. An
architect who is also a musician can feel this vast gap.
Music is a system for expressing emotions. Architecture
should move those who perceive it. There was always a lot
of unexplored relationships between the fields of architecture
and music. This master thesis proposes a design enhancing
system called ARCHestra, which enables designers
to create shapes and manage their proportions and relations
using data from a musical performance.
Architects spend a lot of time using current advanced
modelling software but their creativity gets not so rarely
trumped by the stiffness of these software. Current technology
allows tracking musical improvisation with such precision,
that the data gathered can be reinterpreted and reused in
different contexts. Why should architects, especially in the
early design phase, get discouraged from modelling more
complex shapes? Working with an attractor field, mass rotation,
scaling, translation and some additional vector operations
can get very cumbersome despite the expressivness
of the outcome.
When using highly expressive forms architect must stay
focused on the message they wanted to communicate, not
technical details of the modelling software. That’s why I propose
to design with data from a musical improvisation. To
create a reasonable designing experience a feedback loop
must be involved in the sketching process. This mimics the
classical designing situation with pen and paper. With musical
input, the feedback is enriched with the sense of hearing
and also the designer’s taste and skill in music gets involved.
Music can be divided into Melody, Harmony and
Rhythm. These constitutive elements can each become a
center of the composition and push the others into background,
but there is always a clear distinction between
them. This kind of analysis allows for the same division in architectural
The melody can be perceived as a vector therefore it
can form a trajectory through space. This way of translating
has a deep connection with the fundamental way we perceive
music, because melody is the driver of emotional response.
A vector consists of three coordinates in a 3D
space. All of which can be mapped using pitch of a relative
note, its distance to the actual musical key and rhythmical
density at the specific time.
In a slightly different manner, harmony which creates
musical spaces and masses and a basic emotional charge
can be analyzed to control the volume of the sketch. Due to
the level of complexity of such analysis, human interaction
is needed to continue the research, hence the ARCHestra
Rhythmic qualities of the player’s performance are transcribed
directly into actual displacement of the trajectory
and also the point-cloud itself. In western, oriental and also
in African music, rhythm has founding properties as far as
musical structure of the piece. Therefore, the more rhythm is
pronounced in the performance, the more structure oriented
the outcome of final meshing becomes.