words Gordon O’Connor-Read
Designed especially for Tokyo Designers Week 2008 by MAT Studio & Elastik Architecture, KT: The Listening Room is an experiment in the acoustics of private space, with the intent of avoiding the city’s stimulating visuals.
MAT Studio & Elastik took inspiration from a previous assignment based on creative director Lou Weis’ research into Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder Cycle, in order to create a “secluded but extremely high quality listening experience” within a customised shipping container.
Manufactured CNC panels of corrugated fibreboard and composed polyester foam fit-out the 20-foot container. These materials cut out noise and vibration from the outside, keeping the occupier in a state of inertia while they listen to classical music. “Our goal by using the CNC techniques is to investigate the making of the spatial continuity that spreads from the physical comfort to the acoustical,” says MAT Studio founder Eriko Watanabe.
The use of such techniques are paramount in Elastik’s own work with a “strong affirmation and a bit of the history of designing relations for all the senses, where sound, smell and lighting design are integrated into the tactile and visual experience”, says co-founder Igor Kebel.
It proved popular with Tokyoites, drawing in nearly 4000 visits in five days, and it is proposed to bring the installation to be brought to Rotterdam’s Maassilo event facilities and Amsterdam’s NDSM. But in keeping with the collaboration, both studios continue to develop the prototype further. Aimed at creating a product, not just an installation, with a series of individually acoustic-engineered capsules. These would be located within “extreme flows” such as airports, hotels, and city clusters around the world.
Can we expect a similar level of attention in future architectural acoustics by using CNC techniques? “Not only in acoustics. Imagine the network of small CNC manufacturers connected into a networking cluster over a territory. It may even shake the IKEA market domination,” says Kebel.