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Sound Research Centre

Architecture Thesis Project. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid. May 2005.

An architectural project where spatial perception through sound is the fundamental element. Sound as a design tool for architecture.


Designing the Auditory Scene.

The soundscape determines the understanding of our environment. Although it always seems to be subordinated to visual perception, it is a fundamental part of the structure of our spatial consciousness.
However, architecture hardly considers sound, apart from acoustic design for auditoriums and lecture halls, or as something to be neutralized, particularly when referring to noise.
Aside from acoustic isolation or conditioning, here sound becomes a project tool. All the senses are rated at the same level, with equal value. The whole scene is considered with all its parameters at the same time, with no hierarchy, working from synaesthesia.

This project hasn’t got a specific way to be interpreted. No particular or precise perception is planed. The building and its different parts are conceived as an environment of happenings. Space occurs as an individual and personal experience.

Three surfaces with different acoustic and perceptive properties configure three different areas:

A. Garden Surface.
B. Surface of Variable Reverberation.
C. Anechoic Surface.


A.- Garden Surface 


The top of the building is an undulating plant-sheet. The bending of this surface creates three different acoustic areas. Zone 1 still belongs to the city soundscape. Zone 2 is the result of two waves forming a tunnel. Zone 3 hides from the city sounds.

Plants are designed as a large group of climbers and creepers, endogamic to the area. They cover the surface uniformly and make a cloak that surrounds the visitor everywhere. This surface adds to the auditory scene a chromatic and olfactory feedback that changes everyday.


• The Garden Surface during the year.

B.- Surface of Variable Reverberation.

This surface is striped by plenty of different materials, colours and textures. The folds that it creates configure two walks of shifting reverberation. Space becomes more or less resonant as you walk by.


Every texture (every material) has sound and colour. Sound depends both on the form and the volume of the surrounding area. Spatial perception is the outcome of the addition of visual and echoing progression.


C. Anechoic Surface

The sound of every single place is singular and representative. It tells us information about form, volume, materials, etc. With training, everyone could describe a specific space just listening to its peculiar reverberation, like blind people do. But what happens inside an anechoic chamber? We have no echo response. Acoustic feedback is precisely the absence of it. Space is acoustically indeterminate, indefinite, infinite.


The whole surrounding area of the Research Centre is a surface with maximum acoustic absorption properties. A ribbon substructure forms the camera that contains the foam wedges. This system is covered by a metallic mesh that allows walking on it and for the sounds to travel across. As you walk in this area, below ground level, the acoustic spatial feeling appears uncertain, blurry and unlimited.

Sound Installation

To emphasize the difference between natural sound environment design and a sound installation, an external action was also projected. This is the score of an intervention that creates, by mixing specific light and sound frequencies, in addition to field sound distortion, a new scene that happens over the sensual frame of the building.

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