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Grace Chen | Thesis Program Tutor: Thomas Chevalier Bøjstrup Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture IBT, Architecture and Extreme Environments Spring 2015

TUNING ARCHITECTURE Investigating Acoustic Parallels between Climate and Space

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Iceland Expedition | 2014.11.29, Hellisheiรฐi Power Station. Photograph depicting Gabriele in extreme humidity.

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Agenda Program


Climate + Space Acoustic Tectonic Time + Tuning


Urban Context Proposal Site Social Context: User + Program Cultural Context


66째N Expedition Conditioning Humidity Fieldwork Research: Reykjavik


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^ Heated streetes of Reykjavik | v Air conditioning systems

Reykjavik utilizes its abundant geothermal energy to heat its pedestrian pathways during the harsh winter, whilst many contemporary buildings are reliant on automatic heating and cooling systems to achieve the desired comfort level. 6 |


This thesis program is situated within the research unit ‘Architecture and Extreme Environments’. The unit explores architecture as a vehicle to develop a site-specific understanding of the environment, as a response to local and global issues. The program’s location as Iceland examines its geographic condition at the periphery of the Arctic circle. Its extreme weather conditions and atmospheric phenomena present apparent strategic obstacles for the built environment. “In extreme climates weather often produces a hermetic architecture that encloses the interior to account for the extremes...As ‘green’ architecture is offered a more substantial role in contemporary society, a new relationship must be afforded between architecture and weather that allows buildings to exploit the productive aspects of the atmosphere.” (Mayer and Bhatia, 2010) The ambition of the project is to investigate alternative methods for a spatial dialogue between the climate and built space, beyond the obvious fundamentals of sheltering and moderation towards optimal interior comfort levels. Air conditioners, heaters, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air filters, vents... etc, add to an endless array of energy-consuming, technical systems engineered towards an agenda of controlled habitat. This program is a critique against current architectural trends to erect massive structures (Banham, 1984), as an agent to systematically maintain maximized comfort levels at 25°C/50% humidity. As a consequence, architecture becomes a passive environment, an oversized ‘refrigerator’ designed to store and preserve people from the natural environment. The program proposes a speculative approach to challenge the hermetic nature of many contemporary buildings. Through preliminary investigations involving direct on-site engagement, independent fieldwork and device experiments, the program questions the role of architecture in the extreme context of Iceland. This trajectory towards a sensitive manifestation is examined through the notion of sound, a natural phenomenon highly attuned to its immediate climatic and spatial conditions. The program explores the many spatial parallels sound possess in response to the natural environment. How can Iceland’s climatic and atmospheric phenomena manifest in contemporary architectural discourse? What are the consequences of an active, dynamic environment? Can weather and climate be tempered and tuned towards a spatial dimension in design? The program offers a site-specific, contextual understanding of climate through spatial explorations in architecture, acknowledging the potential for an ecological agenda towards the built environment.

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^ Iceland’s main tourist destination, The Blue Lagoon | v Reykjavik city covered in snow during winter

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The investigations of the program will be conducted through an architectural proposition in Reykjavik, Iceland. The proposal will explore the design of a recording studio and performance space(s), as a speculative construct to redefine tectonic and spatial parallels between the climate and built space. The emergence of the program is approached through initial observations concerning Iceland’s unique climatic condition and cultural context of music. The discoveries materialized from the unit’s expedition to Iceland and individual fieldwork in Reykjavik, revealed spatial disparities between the Icelandic music scene and its inherent allusion to the country’s atmospheric landscapes. It is the program’s intention to celebrate the spatial opportunities (and sensory perceptions of space) emerged through climatic conditions, towards a platform that is culturally relevant to its urban sphere of Reykjavik. In recent years, Reykjavik’s global image has transpired from a remote, north-Atlantic capital to a musical powerhouse. Björk, the single most well known Icelander, is responsible for putting Iceland on the cultural map of eclectic quirk. Iceland’s spacious sounds calls for a program to contextualize the acoustic experience of its music production and performance to its innate atmospheric experience. As a result, the program becomes site-specific to its cultural, climatic and programmatic disposition, as well as its methodological approach towards the proposal’s immediate site on the shoreline of Reykjavik, concerning orientation, terrain, landscape, climate and weather. The program of a recording studio and performance space(s), is concerned with the exploitation of atmospheric phenomena towards artistic pursuits and acoustic experimentations. Subsequently, the proposal’s framework is unlikely to examine a scientific, technological or engineered construct to perfect acoustic design. This is not a project governing the achievement of acoustic solutions, but a comparative study between spaces. Explorations of acoustic parameters in climate, space and time will inform the trajectory and language of the proposal. Can space be composed through acoustic parameters of weather, materials, form and climate? How does the spatial inhabitation of the human body(s) affect aural space? In addition, the project will explore notions of tuning and time sequence as a methodology to mediate between different programmatic structures. Beyond orchestrating a spatial articulation of the program, the proposal intends to stimulate a creative environment for local and international artists, to physically experience the music culture of Iceland as we know it.

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^ Vapour Apartments, Philippe Rahm | < Cloudscapes, Tetsuo Kondo | > Blur Building, Diller, Scofidio+Renfro

Contemporary architects approach the notion of climate and space through different architectural interpretations of the phenomena, by program, function, aesthetic, atmospheric and experience. 12 |


The program examines climate as an active dimension, a condition to be tuned, morphed and exploited towards a tangible construct. Explorations on the spectrum of methodology on the theme ‘climate and space’, will assess relevant spatial opportunities for the proposal. “Its often said in architectural circles that the space between buildings is too quickly overlooked; that these spaces are disregarded as mere landscapes, best left to urban design. But the space between buildings is also the weather. The space between buildings is where climate takes place. Climate is thus open to architectural design.” (Manaugh, 2009) The effect of climate is a highly debated issue in the architectural discourse. In recent years, the move towards ‘green’ and sustainable strategies, stems from the endeavour to provide a one-way solution towards climate change. This is illustrated through the six subdivisions of development, in the history of ‘human interaction with weather’ involving (chronologically): Mythology, Theory, Measurement, Understanding, Forecasting and Controlling (Mayer and Bhatia, 2010). The program acknowledges this shift of perception in climate, from a poetic portrayal towards a scientific analysis of prediction and solution. As such, the proposal rejects this notion encouraging a scientific chain of function, and engages with the exploration of atmospheric phenomena towards an experiential, sensory interpretation of climate-space. Contemporary artists and architects have attempted to manifest climatic spatial experiences by recreating atmospheric conditions within a certain framework or interior space. Yet more often than not, these works are visual, aesthetic displays absent from complexities of function, program and performance. The program aims to explore how atmospheric experiences can be integrated into a complex building proposal. The works of architect Philippe Rahm offers an interesting methodology of ‘physiological architecture’, by utilizing climate as a functional design parameter to compose space, the building becomes a dynamic flow of physical stimulations. In addition to exploring natural weather-climate conditions of the immediate proposal site in Reykjavik, the program also recognizes the physiology of the human body as an active parameter, forming its own environment of varying temperatures, flows and humidity. The proposal intends to assess the physiological variables in the program through timed fluctuations of private and public spaces. “When we realize that we are seeing only a small part of the light spectrum, there can no longer be any doubt for us that we must go beyond presupposed perception” - James Turrell


Natural Climate/Weather


Physiology of Human Body(s)

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Olafur Eliasson | ^ The Weather Project, 2003 | v Feelings are Facts, 2011

Icelandic-Danish artist, Olafur Eliasson emulates weather and atmospheric phenomena in his immersive artworks. The displacement of these temporary installations are successful in its ability to bewilder and remove the audience from reality, challenging their perception of spatial conditions. 14 |

^ Sverre Fehn, Nordic Pavilion | v Philippe Rahm, Jade Eco Park

The Nordic Pavilion incorporates weather conditions as the spatial focus by accommodating trees and rain, Fehn expands the dialogue between architecture and nature (Hill, 2012). Rahmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jade Eco Park is a landscape through a series of modulated spaces with cooling and dehumidifying devices. | 15

Veneer facade responds to existing climatic conditions of the environment

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“Conditioning Humidity’, Device test 01 - Hveragerði, Iceland 2014.11.29

Conditioning Humidity This research project is an individual experiment conducted for the unit’s expedition to Iceland in the previous semester. The device surveys the relationship between climate and spatial tectonics through a simple kinetic movement in material performance. Designed as a portable tea-house, the instrument registers humidity in different climatic conditions, as its wood veneer facades expand or contract in response to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Beyond understanding and measuring the immediate context, the project seeks to question alternative methods by which space engages with the environment. Ultimately, the project formed the trajectory of this thesis program, a continuance in its challenge towards performance between climatic, spatial and material conditions. (For details regarding the project, please refer to the appendices on p.50-65) | 17

< Andrew Glavani, recording Icebergs, soundscape study | > Berlin Philharmonie, concert hall interior, technological design | > V Katie Paterson, Vatnajรถkull (the sound of), 2007

The program allude to the study of acoustic ecology and soundscapes in its framework to spatialize and contextualize sound and spatial perception. 18 |


The acoustic objective of the program is to investigate the potentials in climatic variables to generate experimental spaces for music production and performance. Climatic parameters involve temperature, humidity and pressure, which directly influence the spatial perception of sound. The proposal seeks a tectonic language to house, stimulate and regulate these atmospheric phenomena. Aural Thematics The relationship between sound and architecture is complex, extensive and constantly evolving to reference cultural, societal and technological advancements. Thus, to clarify the focus, the program recognizes several avenues of approach regarding the design of aural space in contemporary architecture: Soundscapes, Allegorical, Geometry, Technology and Digital. Subsequently, the program engages with a hierarchy of selected aural thematics. In 2007, artist Katie Paterson launched the project ‘Vatnajökull (the sound of )’. An underwater microphone is submerged into Jökulsárlón lagoon in Iceland. The audience calls a number to immerse themselves to the creeks, splashes and groans of icebergs as they melt into the water. This digitalization of soundscapes is a suggestive depiction of how new aural-spatial experiences emerge through the coexistence of different aural thematics, without conventional engagements of ‘sound studies’. Silence The notion of silence as a sound in architecture corresponds to the nature of the project, shifting between active and inactive modes. The atmosphere of silence engages with the amplification of other sensory elements, sight, smell and touch. The tectonic composition of silence as a space is associated with thresholds and boundary conditions, exploring programmatic opportunities and resonance of silent space. Cultural Landscape Learning from the Iceland expedition, the material of landscapes possess intriguing potentials for creating aural experiences. Snow dampens sound, ice echoes sound, porous lava rocks absorb sound. The proposal seeks a strategy to integrate the landscape of its immediate surrounding towards an experimental environment. Soundscape study of acoustic ecology, landscape, outdoor recordings Allegorical poetic interpretation of a musical piece, composition Geometry study of form, materiality and perceptive spaces

Program Climatic

Technology advancement of engineered solutions to perfect acoustics Digital parametric experimentations with sound stimulations Hierarchy of Program’s Connection to Thematics and Methodology of Aural Experience

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^ Le Corbusier, Philips Pavilion | - Peter Zumthor, Swiss Sound Box | v Zaha Hadid, JS Bach Chamber Music Hall

Different representations of thematics in aural space design through advancements in architecture 20 |

One man band: musician that plays a number of instruments simultaneously

The device of a one man band: a conceptual reflection of the proposalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intent | 21

< Intermission break at Harpa | > Audence seating and awaiting concert performance

Rituals of music performance form a time-based narrative in the program. 22 |


Tune /tju:n/ verb 1. Adjust (a musical instrument) to the correct or uniform pitch 2. Adjust or adapt (something) to a particular purpose or situation. The notion of time in the program is concerned with rituals, phases and sessions surrounding the operation of music production and performance. These defined sequences of social action suggests a set of structural rhythms that will inform and challenge the ‘state’ of the proposal. The notion of ‘tuning’ allude to the adjustment of elements involving spatial, climatic and tectonic flexibility, towards a stimulation of architectonic performance. Ritual The program investigates the role of rituals in architecture. Rituals define the bodily progression through space at a specific moment, acting on a specific gesture, for a specific duration of time. Applying this notion on a larger scale, these actions form distinctly occupied, vacant or circulative spaces. Consequently, rituals condition and determine the dynamics of the physiological program, revealing spatial and programmatic opportunities. The program recognizes a series of accustomed acts: performance intermissions, tuning of instruments, rehearsal sessions, audience arrivals, departures, seating, recording sessions, stage preparations...etc. These acts trigger certain programmatic areas of the proposal, each at a specific time. The program becomes an activated environment through the investigation of curated parameters. Tuning and Curated Time Time as a design methodology challenges the programmatic states of the proposal. The program concerns inherent variables such as season, climate, transformation of the landscape, high and low tides, duration of daylight...etc. Iceland’s geographical location heightens these conditions. For example, Reykjavik averages at 13°C with 20 hours of daylight in the summer season; during winter, it is 0°C with 4 hours of daylight and covered in snow. The polarity in these phenomena will manifest in the physical condition of the program, exploring notions such as freezing, melting, drying, covering, opening, as a strategy towards climatic cycles. As the program explores ways to adjust and tune towards its appropriate condition, it will consider tectonic, spatial and kinetic methods and some may inherit a more subtle expression than direct physical movements of elements.

Chashitsu: Japanese tea-house embodies the rituals of a tea ceremony | 23

Time Relationship Diagram | Proposed Context and Programmatic Relationship

1 YEAR, 4 SEASONS, 12 MONTHS, 48 WEEKS, 365 DAYS seasons








tourism music festivals (existing, reykjavik) performances (avg.3/week) recording sessions (avg.12/year)

1 WEEK, 7 DAYS, 168 HOURS visitor




recording sessions performances

1 DAY, 24 HOURS, 1440 MINUTES, 86400 SECONDS 0100 day/night solstice










visitor audience recording artist performances 1 PERFORMANCE chamber contemporary

45 MIN

1 song on radio 3 MIN

This diagram illustrates defined moments and occurrences within the functional and social agenda of the proposal. The program will orchestrate the spatial sequence alluding to these moments, as a method to condition fluctuations in time and the variables of spatial tuning towards a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;physiological 24 |




























architectureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. These thresholds suggest a demand for a program of spatial flexibility to adapt to its own user-specific microclimate. The program exists not as an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;experimental pavilionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of sound and climate, but its third narrative proposes a living architecture of social behaviour and interactions. | 25



Diagram of music venues


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in Reykjavik City | Source: Reykjavik Grapevine, Iceland Airwaves, IMX, local knowledge


Reykjavik as a music recording destination is a growing trend amongst international artists and composers. Its attraction is largely attributed to its remoteness, eclectic vibe and desirable appearance as an escape. At a population of 120,000, 38% of Iceland’s population reside in its capital of cultural and economic activity. Its city centre is small, concentrated, with intimate bars and cafés that offer frequent live music performances. Yet, its lack of established music venues is a growing concern for the local music community (Appendix, p.69). The proposal site is located 2 kilometres from the city centre in the Laugardalur district, with a panoramic view bound by Reykjavik city’s skyline to the west and Mt. Esja to the east. The site is located north of a suburban district and an established recreational sports area. Reykjavik is predominantly a car based city. The peninsula is accessible from the city centre by the Saebraut highway, as well as a leisurely pedestrian path along the shoreline, connecting Harpa (Reykjavik concert hall) to the proposal site. The site offers potential access to Viðey Island and Engey Island in Kollafjordur Bay. The project’s location on the periphery of the city suggests a slow passage of arrival and departure from the city centre. A 30-minute journey along the water, the walk shifts from the urban fabric to a natural retreat. In generating an awareness of Reykjavik’s accessibility to nature, the proposal offers an experiential connection to its natural surroundings, diverging from the existing cluster of underground music venues in downtown Reykjavik. Climate The city experiences a subpolar-oceanic climate. Reykjavik’s coastal weather is moderated by the warm current of the Gulf Stream. Its location on the coast makes it prone to strong wind conditions, especially during the Winter, where temperatures average between -2°C~3°C. Summer months are cool, with temperatures averaging at 10°C~15°C.

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Site Plan | 1.2500 Laugarnes, Reykjavik


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The immediate site of the program is situated on the Laugarnes Peninsula, protruding from the natural shoreline to the west of Reykjavik’s city centre. Surrounding the site is a peculiar scattering of unusual objects: an Icelandic film director’s anomalous residence(Hrafn Gunnlaugsson), his bizarre scrapyard art display and the Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum for sculptures. The Laugarnes Peninsula was once occupied by a French hospital, a cemetery, British Army barracks during WWII then as a burial ground. Twisting through the site is a curious path looped around recycled artefacts and miscellaneous paraphernalia. Much like an amusement park attraction, the first image of the film director’s house exudes an intentional playfulness that sets the tone for the rest of the tour (Guðbjartsson, 2007). The site’s raw, unpolished and understated shoreline juxtaposes the neat, modern skyline along the downtown harbour of Reykjavik, visible across the water. This unique nest forms the testing ground for the program’s speculative proposal. The program situates the project towards the northern end of the site, operating as the third node within this sequence of peculiar territories. The proposal will engage with the inherent sculptural aesthetic of its immediate surroundings. The project celebrates an indirect activation of the waterfront, towards an eclectic hideaway for architectural experimentations, both existing and proposed.




fig1 | The Icelandic film director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson at his eclectic abode ‘The Raven’s Nest’, fig2, 3| Landscape at Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum in Summer vs Winter | 31

Site Overview | Winter 2014.12.10

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industrial buildings on klettagarĂ°ar

housing on sĂŚbraut

island engey

mt. esja

city skyline + harpa

terrain + landscape

Visual Elements | Winter 2014.12.10

Visual elements of the site alternate from mountains to city skylines, islands to residential streetscapes. Visual connectivity and orientation defines the programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s user-context relationship. | 33

User Relationship Diagram



ISOLATION producer

sound engineer


recording artists

artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residence

recording studio(s)

performance space(s)


performance artist

backstage staff




The private and public structure of the program informs visual and aural challenges in the proposal. 34 |


The program is concerned with the dialogue between public and private space. The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s user agenda is challenged and formed by the collision between two circles of operation - music production and music performance. Within this framework, the relationship between the public agenda of performative and social interactions against the required isolation of music production seeks a tectonic response beyond mere separation. Performance Within the public program, the project will explore the fluctuation of audience activity as a parameter, conditioning its own physiological environment. The performance space(s) will house small concerts for a key selection of music genres: chamber music, electronic and rock. Larger, formal performances such as symphony orchestras and operas will not be considered as part of the proposal, the existing Harpa (Reykjavik concert hall) is the appropriate venue for such occasions. Thresholds of the performance space(s) will be investigated, to generate flexibility and spatial conditions for different experiences. Alongside secondary public spaces such as the arrivals/intermission area, the program will assess spatial opportunities to interact with local recording artists/composers, mediating between the private/public arena. Production The programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private agenda will consist of a series of artists residences, composition space and studio. Through spatial composition and orientation of the proposal, the private sphere retreats into the Reykajvik landscape. The proposal aims to explore different spatial conditions formed by unlikely encounters through the social context of the program. As a result, the project engages with a speculative approach towards the user framework and spatial configurations.

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Left to Right | Bj枚rk, Sigur R贸s, Of Monsters and Men, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, GusGus, Olafur Arnalds

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From a population of 320,000, this small and remote nation has gained an immense audience for its music export of spacious, quirky sounds. Much of Iceland’s cultural success is attributed to its intimate music community and the rich music scene of Reykjavik. Iceland’s short span of musical history has enabled its artists and composers to be unconfined by limitations in genre or tradition, challenged to pursue an innovative alternative. In recent years, Iceland’s music industry as a tourist attraction has achieved extensive attention from the international sphere. Every November, 9000 people flock to the city of Reykjavik to attend the annual ‘Iceland Airwaves’ music festival. Its wide attraction to the international audience triggers such large amount of tourism in Iceland, that it even temporarily alters the rate of the Krona (IMX, 2015). However, Reykjavik’s music venues are falling behind in generating sufficient capacity to accommodate for this burgeoning industry. Many of the city’s current performance spaces are situated in bars, cafés and galleries in downtown Reykjavik. These spaces create an intimate and informal atmosphere, yet there is still much demand for established venues in Reykjavik. “It can get a little tiring that there are only two or three venues you can play on a regular basis, the other venues are so much bigger that they are only used for special occasions.” - Árni Þór Árnason, Rökkurró (Hua, 2011) “Sadly, there are no city-sponsored music venues like in other Nordic countries. The venues sometimes close down until someone brave enough opens them up again.” - Sindri Már Sigfússon, musician (Hua, 2011) The program seeks an architectural proposition to house both local and international artists, as a public venue for performance and a studio space for music production, operating as a flexible workshop space for experimentation in music. The relevance of the program to Iceland’s music scene will orient towards a spatial interpretation of its eclectic and experimental ethos. The program is informed by the fieldwork research conducted in Reykjavik, based on several interviews and conversations with local members of Iceland’s music industry. (For details regarding the research and interviews, please refer to the appendices on p.66-69)

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^ The annual Iceland Airwaves music festival | - Blue Lagoon Chill during Iceland Airwaves | v Music venues in Reykjavik

Iceland Airwaves is an annual music festival in Reykjavik, held in November. With 9000 people in attendance, it is a major platform for both Icelandic and International artists to promote their music. 38 |

Iceland, Chris Burkard

The â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;moodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of the Icelandic landscape is inherent to the identity of Icelandic culture, recognized as an asset to promote Iceland as a cultural destination for music and tourism. | 39

^ Perry Kulper, relational drawing | < Luis Callejas, Parque del Lago | > Smout Allen, Houses on the Move

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The program’s overall trajectory towards the proposal concerns two correlative strategies for design development, sliding between investigative and representational modes of ‘making’. Representational Methodology The generative methodology of the program is committed to an iterative process of development through drawing and modelling, operating primarily between the architectural scales of the human body and of the immediate site and surroundings. The representation of time in the project is vital to communicate the notion of tuning and adjustment, intrinsic to the proposal. The program will explore the process of collage, superimposition and layering to interpret the adaptive conditions of the building. In addition to progressional representations, the project will engage with a series of comparative narratives in juxtaposed programmatic states, such as: arrival vs departure, before vs. after, winter vs. summer and day vs night. The visual representation of invisible parameters such as climate and physiological atmospheres, sound and silence, will be investigated through abstract interpretations concerning magnitude and thresholds. Investigative Methodology The program will engage with a series of established frameworks from other fields of study to further the development of the proposal. This may involve studies concerning materiality, sound and environment, geometric forms, sound and perceptive spaces, sound vessel typologies, private/public zoning, performance space typologies, land intervention, climatic cycles...etc These investigations will be communicated through a series of diagrams and conceptual models, relevant to the overall scheme of the proposal. It is the intention that as the project progresses, new methodologies will be experimented and acquired to effectively communicate the proposal’s ideas.

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Time schedule plan of thesis project - 100 days total / 14 weeks


the site

site model digital model


the threshold

drawings conceptual model


the composition

diagrams drawings


the volume

model digital model


the sequence

drawings diagrams


the states

collage drawings


the spaces

collage digital model


the landscape

conceptual model model


the materiality

conceptual model collage


the details

detail model drawings


the motion

diagrams model


the atmosphere

collage drawings


the representation

drawings model


the narrative

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pin-up process book










Investigating the transformative scope of the program, the proposal aims to explore a broad sequence of conditions through time (refer to diagram on p.24-25). Due to the variable nature of the project, the proposal will focus on a select scope of ‘states’ to investigate. This will be determined primarily by parameters concerning the weather condition and programmatic activity within the project. As the proposal progresses, it is essential that the juxtaposition of two extreme conditions are refined to illustrate the flexibility and extent of the proposal. 1:1000 The program will explore the proposal’s situation in the urban scope of Reykjavik, investigating public accessibility and visual connectivity. The program will assess opportunities to activate the waterfront and shoreline of the peninsula. 1:200/50 The majority of the design process will alternate between representational scales of 1:200 and 1:50, focusing on spatial speculations, composition and atmospheric conditions. Detail/Conceptual/The Abstract The program is likely to engage with material details and specific elements that embody the proposal’s spatial intent. This could consist of material studies at 1:1, detail studies at 1:20 or conceptual and abstract representations at no defined scale. The final submission will be curated to emphasize key moments of the project’s intention and narrative of the design process. The project’s development and overall body of work will be documented in the form of a process book.

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Map of route along the south coast of Iceland | Day01-09 (Pink) | Rest of unit Day10-17 (Dashed)

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Architecture and Extreme Environments Iceland 2014.11.28 - 2014.12.14

As part of the preliminary study of the program, the research unit ‘Architecture and Extreme Environments’ embarked on a 17-day expedition to Iceland during its harsh winter season. The first half of the field trip explored the south coast of Iceland by car via Ring Road/Route1, experiencing a varying palette of landscapes and atmospheric phenomena. The second half of the expedition (as independent study) investigated the city of Reykjavik and Iceland’s music industry (Appendices p.68-71) Itinerary: Day 01 | Arrival in Reykjavik Day 02 | Hellisheiði Power Station, Hveragerði Greenhouses, Steaming Landscape, Device Test 1 Day 03 | Geysir, Gullfoss Day 04 | Seljalandsfoss, Seljavallalaug Day 05 | Vik, Black Sand Beach, DC-3 Crash, Mýrdalsjökull Day 06 | Vik, Black Sand Beach, Device Test 2 Day 07 | Svartifoss, Skaftafell National Park Day 08 | Jökulsárlón, Device Test 33 Day 09 | Hveragerði Day 10-17 | Reykjavik Details and anecdotes from the expedition can be found at:

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Mist, 2014.11.30 Gullfoss

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Left to Right: Glacier, Mýrdalsjökull | Black Sand Beach, Vik | Moss, Hellisheiði Power Station | Land, Hellisheiði Power Station | Ultramarine, Geyser | Snow, Skaftafell National Park

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< Curling of ash veneer above steaming water for 10 sec | > Hexogonal veneer component above steaming water for 10 sec

This test is based on the kinetic movement of material properties. Conducted indoors at room temperature using ash veneer, the surface is exposed to absorb steam, expand and bend the veneer. 50 |


September 2014 - January 2015

This project is an experiment conducted in the first semester in the research unit ‘Architecture and Extreme Environments’. The unit focuses on device testing as an approach and design methodology to understand and survey site-specific conditions. This project acts as a departure point for the thesis program, to gain an understanding of spatial conditions in varying climatic environments. The design of the device engages with humidity responsive materials and structures in the form of a portable tea-house. Using wood veneer, the device tiled four facades of varying geometries and configurations. The production and construction of the device were informed by the realities of air transportation and travel. Lightness, portability and ease of assemblage were considered in the design. During the expedition, the device was tested in three different landscapes of varying climatic and weather conditions. The response of the device was photographed, filmed, measured and recorded. Locations: Test 1 | 2014.11.29 Hveragerði Test 2 | 2014.12.03 Vik Black Sand Beach Test 3 | 2014.12.05 Jökulsárlón The following pages (52-65) document the process, experiments, research and investigations conducted in the making of this project.

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Gradual flattening of curled veneer - 20 minutes

Contraction of material properties enable the veneer to flatten back to its original state 52 |

^ Humidity responsive structure - Pine cone | v Scaling in architecture - Wooden shingles

The device allude to the geometry and overlapping scales of pine cones and wooden shingles | 53

^ The Volume | v Facade Design

The shelter accommodates for 3 people. Structural stability is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions during the expedition. All components overlap in the facade design for weather protection. Direction of veneer kinetic movement vary: as radial, horizontal and vertical 54 |

The Skin, fabric structure plan - unfolded. Materials: mesh, waterproof fabric, velcro

velcro ed

ge velcro ed

ve lc









sew n







sewn e

The skin is the structural support for the veneer facades. The skeleton of the device is positioned within individual sleeves(blue). The main material of the skin is fabric mesh(dotted, framed by waterproof fabric(light blue). Velcro(dark grey) is used to attach veneer surfaces | 55

Structure kit production phase

1000mm Aluminium Rods x15

Varied Aluminium Rods x12




JOINT D x3 wing nuts x bolts x33

Materials: 14mm brass rods, 12mm aluminium rods, flexible plastic tubes, wing nuts and bolts 56 |

Veneer facade production phase

306 pieces of individual veneer components, laser cut, including facades A, B, C and the roof | 57

Device test and camp out in Denmark - 18 days before departure.

Testing scale, assemblage, portability and stability against weather. Assemblage time: 15 minutes 58 |

< Veneer Construction Diagram | > Packaging Diagram




Veneers stitched to velcro strips and folded into suitcase. Aluminium rods slide into plastic tube | 59

^ Fieldwork and on-site assemblage in Iceland (chronological) | v Facade details and tectonics

60 |

Device Test 01 Hveragerรฐi | ^ on boiling stream for 1 minute | v on boiling stream for 15 minutes

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Device Test 01 HveragerĂ°i | 2014..11..29

Time | 1300 - 1700 Temperature | 3 ~ 9 °C Humidity | 75 % Precipitation | 0.0 mm Wind Speed | 12 km/h Humidity in Device | 95% Veneer Result | Curling outwards 62 |

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Device Test 02 | Black Sand Beach, Vik | 2014.12.03

Time | 0900 - 1700 Temperature | 0 ~ 3 째C Humidity | 80 % Precipitation | 4.0 mm Wind Speed | 20 - 25 km/hr Humidity in Device | 80 % Veneer Result | Curling inwards 64 |

Device Test 03 | Jökulsárlón | 2014.12.05

Time | 1000 - 1800 Temperature | -10 ~ -4 °C Humidity | 65% Precipitation | 0.0 mm Wind Speed | 16 km/hr Humidity in Device | 60% Veneer Result | Frozen/flat | 65

^ Greenhouse Studios | - Sundlaugin Studio | v Harpa, Reykjavik Concert Hall

Behind-the-scenes of music production in Reykjavik from 2 recording studios: Greenhouse Studios as a high-tech studio and Sundlaugin Studio as an informal, recording/performance venue. 66 |


Reykjavik, Iceland

Day 10-17 of the expedition is focused on independent research towards defining the thesis program. The research investigation is based in Reykjavik, exploring the city’s music scene both informally and formally. The conversations and notes from the investigation can be categorized into three issues regarding Iceland’s music industry: spatial, social and cultural. Four music-related venues were investigated: 2014.12.09 | Harpa, Reykjavik A concert hall designed by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. Since its completion in 2011, Iceland’s first purpose-built concert hall has become a cultural landmark and social hub for music performances in Reykjavik 2014.12.10 | Greenhouse Studios, Paul Evans (producer/engineer/composer) A recording studio located in the Breiðholt district of Reykjavik. The studio primarily records international artists such as Damien Rice, The XX, Brian Eno...etc 2014.12.11 | IMX, Sigtryggur Baldursson (director/musician/founding member of the Sugarcubes) Icelandic Music Export is responsible for the promotion and visibility of Icelandic music in the international sphere. The organisation is the producer of various music festival such as Iceland Airwaves, as well as offering support and funding to local music artists. 2014.12.12 | Sundlaugin Studio, Birgir Jón “Biggi” Birgisson (sound engineer) A recording studio in Mosfellsbær, Reykjavik. Dubbed ‘the backbone of Icelandic music production’, this studio is known as the working space of Sigur Ros. The studio primarily records local artists such as Of Monsters and Men, Sóley, Solstafir...etc

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^ Sundlaugin Studio, before conversion | v Sundlaugin Studio, Control Room

Sundlaugin Studio was converted from an abandoned swimming pool in 1999 by Icelandic band Sigur Ros, now houses a live studio space and a control room. 68 |

Spatial - Reykjavik and Recording/Performance Spaces Harpa

Iceland’s only purpose-built concert hall, its largest auditorium contains a 5m depth acoustic barrier. It was initiated as a competition to expand the Austurhöfn masterplan in Reykjavik and is now an integral part of music events in Iceland, a main venue of Iceland Airwaves and is home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.

Greenhouse Studios

PE | There is a lack of proper music venues in Reykjavik besides the usual bars and cafés in town, most being pretty casual. PE | One of my more interesting recording projects led me to record an organ inside a church. In some ways, it was more difficult than recording outdoors, as I had to try and capture the space it was in, as opposed to simply recording the instrument. PE | On some occasions, we’ve had singers demanding humidifiers to be placed in the room as the air can be quite dry. Classical singers prefer a longer reverberation time as opposed to say, pop music.

Sundlaugin Studio

BB | We often use this studio recording space as a live performance space. In 2000, Damien Rice performed four open recording sessions in front of an average crowd of 120 people around the top walkway. BB | For several years, the main studio space was actually used as the rehearsal space of Sigur Ros, Many of our clients now use this space not only for recording but for mastering and writing projects.


SB | Since the government reduced our funding at the ministry of culture, popular live music venues such as NASA had to close its doors. It was a great venue because of its flexibility and availability. SB | It is not often that artists record outdoors, as recording trailers are expensive to hire. I think it would be an interesting idea to see a glass trailer as a recording studio.

Social - The Music Community Greenhouse Studios

PE | Everyone seems to be under the impression that Icelandic music is fundamentally connected to the landscape, and it may be so subconsciously, but the success of Icelandic music is because of the supportive, non-critical environment of the community. PE | The thing about Iceland is, that it has such a short span of history in music, so it allows more freedom for artists to cross genres, as no one’s trying to put you into a specific category or style of any kind, as they might do so in the UK for example.

Sundlaugin Studio

BB | Everyone I know plays in at least three bands, so its the collaborations between musicians that form this intimate circle of support. Because the city is so small and everyone attends the same events, there is no way you could distance yourself from it even if you tried. You’ll always end up running into the same people!


SB | There is no sense of competitiveness in the musical industry here. Our organization was funded because local artists needed a platform to promote themselves, but its not based on a commercial foundation.

Cultural - The Icelandic Music Industry Harpa

The construction site around the building has been planned for a high-end hotel. Its a convenient development for Harpa because there’s no accommodation in-house, so we always often have to arrange accommodation for our performers instead.

Greenhouse Studios

PE | There’s a lot of international collaboration going on in Iceland, so our clients are people who have come to play with a certain artist or have been scheduled to perform at festivals and stayed thereafter to record with us.


SB | Tourism has reached its maximum state at festivals such as Iceland Airwaves. The success can be replicated but the music culture has not been taken advantage of it in that sense. SB | Geographically and culturally, Iceland is viewed as a utopia in music circles for its freedom and extent of styles and genres.

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Banham, R (1984) The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, Chicago

Banham, R (1984) The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, Chicago

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Guðbjartsson, G (2007) For Hrafn Gunnlaugsson There Really is No Place like Home, Article, Reykjavik Grapevine

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Hill, J (2012) Weather Architecture, Routledge, New York

Gissen, D (2009) Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments, Princeton Architectural Press Hayden, E (2014) Sigur Rós’s ( ), Bloomsbury Academic, London Hill, J (2012) Weather Architecture, Routledge, New York Ishigami, J (2011) Another Scale of Architecture, Seigensha, Japan Manaugh, G(2009) The BldgBlog Book, Chronicle Books, CA Mayer H., J, Bhatia, N (2010) -Arium: Weather + Architecture, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern Descosterd & Rahm (2002) Physiological Architecture, Edite par, Bern

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Hua, V (2011) The Real Icelandic Music Scene: Interviews with Icelandic Musicians, Article, Redefine Magazine IMX (2015) Iceland Airwaves - Can a Small City Festival Transform an Entire Country?, Conference, De Oosterpoort, The Netherlands Mayer H., J, Bhatia, N (2010) -Arium: Weather + Architecture, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern Manaugh, G(2009) The BldgBlog Book, Chronicle Books, CA Oxford Dictionaries Photography with contributions by David Garcia, Jakob Knudsen



Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture IBT Architecture and Extreme Environments 2014 | 2015 Dep.2 Architectures of Persistent Transformation 2013 | 2014

Bicycle Innovation Lab | Copenhagen Graphics/Design, Part-time 2014 Feb - May

University of Sydney Bachelor of Design in Architecture WAM 89/100 2009 | 2011

Contact Details | E/


Bates Smart | Sydney, Australia Architectural Assistant, Full-time 2012 May - 2013 August Koichi Takada Architects | Sydney, Australia Architectural Assistant, Full-time 2012 Jan - May

M/ +45 60210306 W/ | 71

Grace Chen | Thesis Program Tutor: Thomas Chevalier Bøjstrup Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture IBT, Architecture and Extreme Environments Spring 2015

Tuning Architecture | Thesis Program  
Tuning Architecture | Thesis Program  

Masters Thesis Program at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, 2015 Summer