The Bartlett School of Architecture


Sufi Pavilion

Oliver Townsend

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Over the last decade, the UK has been victim to a catastrophic, unforeseen wave of performance venue closures within the night life industry. It has become apparent that these rich in heritage and culturally significant architectural monuments have fallen to the wayside. Conversely, we have seen the emergence of over 50% new music festivals over the same time period. This blossoming suggests that a shift has occurred in the way we choose to experience live musical performance.

Currently, performance-specific venues are being underused, being replaced by more and more festivals, housed in empty fields, with a lack of physical and acoustic containment. The festival stage acts as a source of all performance infrastructure and contextual scenography, reduced to a single wall that denies the audience access into a physical architectural space, so a relationship between audience, performer and place is dramatically reduced.

Pavilion Sufi was developed in response to this development, serving as a soft architectural injection of presence within these temporary, architecturally flat spaces. Designed to be suspended in array over a performance and audience, the frequency of the spinning fabric disks responds to the audio input from the performer whilst the illumination of the environment is controlled by movement patterns within the crowd. The Sufis provide an environment in which space, performance and audience are contributing in symbiosis to the overall experience. Through an extended level of architectural containment, the system seeks to exhibit the manifestation of spirit within live musical performance.