Ultrasonic architecture III

Formalising ultrasonic spatial phenomena

Link to project booklet

2010

In the final stage of the project, I sought to create a formal habitation of space using water as a building element. Abandoned silos in Montréal, Canada were the chosen site for the project given their proximity to the Lachine Canal.

Silos on Rue St-Patrick, Montréal

View looking east from across the Lachine Canal

Through my research on water purification plants, I created drawings of a filtration system that would inhabit the silos and bring the canal waters inside the space. The largest of the four silo spaces housed a filtration system that could convert water taken from the canal. Two large tubes acted as slow sand filters. Water would pass through a series of striations of sand and rock to remove impurities. Visitors to the silos could watch as the water slowly made its way through the filtration system. I imagined large turbines below the ground floor that would provide the immense power needed to convey the water upwards into a central holding tank. A large water collector on the roof would transport rainwater to the same tank. The secondary, smaller silos were an open area where water cascaded down from above and kept the walls wet, creating a rippling, changing surface inside. I intended the grounds around the silos to become a water park for children to play in while the interior space was to become a separate, disconnected space, informed through water and echoes of sound.

Section through the silos

Water filtration systems inhabiting the interiors

Translating my drawings into a physical model, I welded steel pieces together to create a framework in proportional scale with the silos. I set up the framework in an unused basin in the university's architecture department and filled it with water.

Acrylic forming

I used a heat gun to bend pieces of acrylic sheet into vessels similar to what I drew, and created a wire "backbone" system to support the tubes which would connect the vessels together. Some tubes in the system terminated at nozzles that I handmade from brass piping. Depending on how they were crimped, the water would create different sounds as it exited the nozzles.

Acrylic forming

A heat gun was used to heat a sheet of acrylic, which was then forcefully pushed down into a mould to create the shape

Acrylic forming

Two shapes were then glued together and held in place with clamps

Finished filtration chambers

The finished model invited a visitor to press a button to create a large fountain of water. The ultrasonic listeners were attached as parasitic objects to make audible the hidden ultrasonic sounds of the water passing through the system.

Finished model

Water filtration systems inhabiting the silo framework

Chamber detail