A responsive performance space in Odense

2014

The current state of architecture is such that our interactions within a space are not considered as influencing factors in the establishment of form. We often create spaces that compel us to interact with specific elements while not considering how the spaces should respond and adapt to the people that visit them. But what if a building could fulfil these requirements? This project proposes an interactive performance space at Thomas B. Thriges Street in Odense, Denmark.

Central Odense site plan

Location of the project in red, showing relation to cultural institutions

The current layout of Thomas B. Thriges Street in Odense is problematic, as it is a major road running through the heart of the city. The building of the road came with the advent of the automobile, which prompted the expansion and upgrade of roads. In the 1960s, the street was constructed in the heart of Odense to accommodate this new city inhabitant. Placing the convenience of privatized travel over the unique character of a central square led to city planners bisecting Odense with Thomas B. Thriges Street, which created a disconnect. I was struck by the uncomfortable feeling of the street being so close to the area where pedestrians were walking. My first view of the nearby Sct. Albani Kirke was seen through the proximity of roads, concrete and street signs.

It became obvious that Odense needed to re-create spaces that could tell a story about the environment and the people. A new master plan for the area was developed that proposed to remove the street and transform the area into an inviting, pedestrian-friendly place. A gradient of buildings from large to small scale will occupy the area, allowing Odense to continue to develop as an important hub city in Denmark while preserving the character of the historical dwellings nearby. A large underground parking area beneath the buildings will acknowledge the importance of the automobile while preventing a noticeable change to the urban landscape.

I proposed an interactive performance space situated near the music house, which would create a connection between the surrounding urban space and the parking area underground. The performative and musical aspects of the music house inspired me to focus on a performance space that is oriented to being incorporated into the surrounding urban landscape of cafés, shops, and gathering places. As an informal, multi-use performance space it stands in contrast to the organised and formal performance halls of the music house. People are encouraged to play their guitar, stage a small play or hold meetings in the space.

Performance space site plan

Odense music house seen at top

The physical form of the space is inspired by Frei Otto’s work with using soap bubbles to find optimal structures. The spherical qualities of the space lends to the way sound is propagated - a crucial factor in the design of a performance space. The space becomes interactive through the abstraction of the shell into a series of triangular apertures that can be opened and closed through a number of conditions. Opening the apertures means that the sound in one area can be shared with people sitting outside in cafés, or passersby. Since the apertures can be controlled, the way people interact with the site is multi-faceted. In some cases the movement of a person may trigger the apertures to open, or the apertures could be pre-programmed ahead of time using a smartphone to act a certain way during a performance. It is through these apertures that the building becomes an active part of the performance. And because the space connects the above ground with the parking area, the sounds of these performances have the chance to filter down below, creating a new form of urban symphony and activating the parking area in a unique way.

Performance space longitudinal section looking east

Performance space latitudinal section looking north

Key: 1. Rhythm hall underground - 2. Interactive performance hall entrance - 3. Performance space - 4. Outdoor stage - 5. Café - 6. Shops - 7. Promenade - 8. Underground promenade - 9. Trams - 10. Apartments - 11. Rhythm hall main level