Sound Morphogenesis: A Theory and Methodology of Architecture and Design informed by Sound and Music
In 1958, Iannis Xenakis used a glissandi diagram as the parti for the architectural design of the Philips Pavilion. It was a pioneering example of an architectural form directly derived from the morphology of a sound object. In stark contrast, sound is usually seen as a pollutant, as something to be absorbed, blocked and diffused in current architectural design and practice. From an architectural design theory perspective, Digital Morphogenesis demonstrates significant theoretical implications in computational design and digital fabrication due to its natural-inspired sustainable methodologies, new forms, fabrication techniques, and multidisciplinary approaches. However, our current architectural and design field does not consider sound material from a morphological perspective in both theory and practice.
My research aims to expand the theory of digital morphogenesis by encompassing sound objects as an additional architectural material for computational design and fabrication. I introduce Sound Morphogenesis Design (SMD), a new design framework that uses information theory as a foundation to develop methodologies for architecture and design research. My research explores three main questions: (1) How does architectural practice change when sound is not viewed as pollution but as a design opportunity? (2) How does sound morphology expand the theory of digital morphogenesis and change the approach for architectural design research? And (3) what would be the novel design practice of sound morphogenesis design that enhances aural experiences and aesthetics? To integrate sound morphology in design, this dissertation presents a systematic survey of musical aesthetics in architectural projects and develops two SMD methodologies: WYHIWYW and SoftTectonics. WYHIWYW (What You Hear Is What You Wear) investigates digital domain design techniques such as Digital Design through the Open-Sound-Control Protocol, Computational Design through MIDI, and Computational Design through Modular Synthesizers. Through such techniques, the listening experience enriches and expands the design process. SoftTectonics explores sound morphogenesis from three different approaches using physical prototyping of soft materials: tip-grow, feather-flip, and pneumatic-cavity. These methods provide a framework for digital architecture, wearable design, and new media artworks.
A novel analysis tool CIMT (Creative-Impact-Musicality-Technology) evaluates the developed research experiments to prove SMD’s contribution as a design theory. The present dissertation paves a path to cross music and architecture for future discovery, design, and human perception.