• ArchiExpo e-Magazine - #35 - Sounds Heavenly - ArchiExpo e-Magazine

    Sounds Heavenly

    Our May issue highlights the latest advancements in architectural acoustics from a piece on the making of Brooklyn’s National Sawdust to an article dedicated to materials and technology. In March we met both the architect and the owner of Europe’s most sustainable hotel located in Iceland, the ION. After a tour of the original ION located outside Reykjavik and surrounded completely by nature, we were given a tour of the nearly-finished city version: the ION’s double! Check out all the goodies this issue has to offer and be sure to connect with us on Twitter.


    Fullpage Dickson
    Hot Topic
    Algorithms and sound wave tracking technology
    Courtesy of Guiding Architects


    Algorithms and sound wave tracking technology have led to a metamorphosis in modern concert halls to produce a richer experience for the audience. The swirling walls of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Hamburg’s newest, were designed by Herzog and De Meuron. While it may resemble an abstract work of art,  its...

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    The most complex project per square foot that we’ve ever done.
    Courtesy of architect Peter Zuspan


    Behind a factory façade decorated with colorful creations, the auditorium at National Sawdust is even more striking. Intersecting black lines on the white walls, floor and ceiling break up a symmetrical space to generate the illusion of irregularity.

    “In any major city, a post-industrial arts space is very understandable, so we wanted that familiarity and comfort, but also something that would linger in the memory,” said architect Peter Zuspan, a founding principal at Bureau V. “When you come through the lobby, it feels completely strange and different.”

    National Sawdust lobby. Courtesy of the architect.

    National Sawdust lobby. Courtesy of the architect.

    The zigzag channels are made from aluminum that is perforated to achieve acoustic transparency, finished with a synthetic fabric commonly used to protect the speakers of sound systems. The black channels also house technical elements such as lighting, power outlets and AV panels, eliminating visual interference from wires or cables.

    The 12 interchangeable units measuring 1×2 m comprising the stage allow its configuration to be set depending on the show, with room for as much as 70 percent of a full orchestra. The auditorium is shielded by a custom 3×3 m vertically sliding door manufactured by Clark Door. It can be closed to effectively seal the space during acoustically sensitive performances.

    Despite a strong synthesis between functionality and eye-catching aesthetics, some of the most intriguing innovations at National Sawdust—which opened in 2015—are not visible to concert-goers. Bureau V worked closely with engineers at Arup, a firm which uses proprietary data modeling software to simulate the acoustics of a space,a sonic parallel to architectural visualizations.

    National Sawdust

    National Sawdust floor plan. Courtesy of the architect

    “National Sawdust was the most complex project per square foot that we’ve ever done,” said consultant Matthew Mahon, who has been with the company since 2008. He identifies the most unusual feature as a set of velour curtains that hang between the acoustically transparent “skin” of the auditorium and the concrete outer wall; they allow the room to be tuned to artistic needs.

    national sawdust architecture iweiss theatrical solutions archiexpo emag design

    “Massive” black and white velour drapery surround Brooklyn’s music venue, National Sawdust, creating an “acoustic envelope”. iWeiss Theatrical Solutions built and installed a line-shaft for lighting positions and all of the drapery is hanging on iWeiss curtain track and attached by custom brackets into the solid concrete shell.

    “It’s always going to look the same, even though we’re changing the acoustics,” Mahon told ArchiExpo e-Magazine. “When the concrete walls are exposed, it makes the room more reflective. When the drapes are in place, it becomes drier and less reverberative, which is more appropriate for amplified music.”

    The auditorium is a box within the old factory shell surrounded by about 60 springs to absorb vibrations from trains rumbling their way from Manhattan to Brooklyn. “If you go to a movie in New York, you hear the subway,” said Zuspan of Bureau V. “The building precludes that noise because the sprung area is totally insulated.”

    National Sawdust

    National Sawdust exterior

    You’ll want to check out this article and podcast entitled Reverb: The Evolution of Architectural Acoustics by 99% Invisible.

    Check out the latest acoustic suspended ceilings on the virtual exhibition site ArchiExpo.

    Within the city of Reykjavik
    Courtesy of ION

    The land of fire and ice renders luxury difficult, and while most hotels in Iceland harness a rustic style, the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel takes classy comfort to a new level: simple crème-de-la-crème beauty with a sustainable icing. Award winning L.A.-based design studio Minarc completed the Ion Hotel in 2013,...

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    Fullpage Concept Urbain


    Ana Luiza Daltro

    A native of São Paulo, Ana Luiza Daltro is a freelance journalist specialized in economics and business, writing for magazines such as EXAME and VEJA.

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    Frederick Bernas

    Frederick Bernas is a journalist, filmmaker and photographer living in Latin America.

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    Erin Tallman

    Erin Tallman is a journalist and the Editor in Chief for ArchiExpo e-magazine. She contributes to other online publications and, as an author, has already published her first novel.

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    Vanessa Liwanag

    Vanessa Liwanag, is an MBA alumni of the prestigious Mod’Art International in Paris and founder of Creative Talents Worldwide.

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    Hilary Edesess

    Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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    Alex Ulam

    Alex Ulam is a freelance journalist and design critic based in New York.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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