We’ve seen plenty of music houses sculpted around the concept of music–warm wood-paneled theaters that evoke the insides of instruments; symphony halls where a massive pipe organ becomes part of the architecture. But it’s not often that the form of the building itself is driven by music. Anisotropia is a concept by Orproject for an opera house in South Korea where the music — a composition for piano, to be exact — shapes the building’s form. The competition sponsored by the Busan Opera House hoped to bring ideas to light that could add another cultural destination to the port city.
The basis for the opera house’s design is a piece called “Klavierstück I” or “Piano Piece No.1.” Orproject’s Christoph Klemmt composed the piece (he writes music on the side, but was trained as an architect). Like a piece of sheet music with its notes connected, a swooping web of lines dance up and down to make the “strips” in the building’s facade and interior. “In the composition we have the simple twelve tone row, and in the building the simple strips,” Klemmt tells Co.Design. “Both of them are getting deformed and modulated to form the composition and the building.”
Essentially, Klemmt says, he and his team are using the same tool to create music in order to create a building: An arrangement of music with multiple notes. “We are taking a basic module, then we are repeating this module, and we are altering it and changing it in the same ways,” he says. “We are overlaying the modules in different voices/layers of the facade, and we are shifting the modules against each other so that sometimes they align and sometimes they are offset from each other.” In the composition, the layers of notes come together to create the harmonies and chords of a great piece of music, and in the building the splay of lines create features like shading elements on the exterior that keep the building cool while allowing in natural light. The resulting effect is kind of a rhythm for the entire building, almost as if parts of the exterior are, at times, building towards a crescendo.
The building also doesn’t end at its walls, as an algorithm that acts as a framework for the layers of the facade is calibrated with the ocean nearby as the baseline. “All the layers of the facade structure start at the sea, come onto the island, then they flow around the building elements like the theatres and the atrium and so on, and then they flow towards the city and disappear back into the ground,” says Klemmt. “The composition flows in time, and our facade structure flows in space instead.”