The Bartlett


Translating Sensing Spaces at the RA

31 March 2014

Felix Faire's ResonAte project in the Pezo von Ellrichshausen Blue Pavillion at Sensing Spaces

In February, Felix Faire, a student on The Bartlett’s MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation programme, created ResonAte, a multi-sensory installation for the Royal Academy’s blockbuster architecture exhibition Sensing Spaces.

The installation, which was featured at the Sensing Spaces Friday Night Late on 21 February, used light and sound to animate visitors’ interactions with Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Blue Pavilion.

As the exhibition draws to a close, Felix describes the origins of the ResonAte project, and how he sought to interpret the physical constructions of Sensing Spaces through code, technology and design.

“This project originated during the first term of the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation, where the openness of the brief allowed us to pursue anything we liked involving technology, experience and the built environment," explains Felix.

“This freedom allowed the first CONTACT project to emerge from an amalgam of all of my previous interests and a desire to master new skills and technologies. CONTACT was essentially a wooden table that had been embedded and augmented with hidden technology to become a tangible and expressive audiovisual instrument. It was great fun to make and through this project, I learnt and achieved more than I thought I could have done in one term.

“When my tutor, Ruairi Glynn, and the course director of MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation, Sean Hanna, heard about the upcoming Friday Night Late event at the Royal Academy’s Sensing Spaces exhibition, they thought it would be the perfect place to somehow incorporate CONTACT as an installation, because of its multi-sensory and expressive nature. This was an incredible opportunity, and we visited the exhibition to see how the project could become a situated piece of the exhibition for one evening. Rather than simply insert the project as a standalone piece, I decided to scale the project to an architectural scale, and augment one of the existing exhibits.

“The acoustic quality of the timber ‘Blue Pavilion’ by Pezo von Ellrichshausen lent itself perfectly to the work that I had been doing with sound, so I ended up turning an entire spiral staircase into a kind of haptic resonating chamber, in which every step and touch became audible to the inhabitants as a reverberating tone. The installation, ResonAte, was very much a literal translation of the idea of ‘Sensing Spaces’, in that a person’s awareness of their presence in a space becomes amplified through sound, vision and touch. The design process wasn’t quite as contrived as this but the space is literally sensing you, as you are sensing it.

“I find these aspects of the MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation programme the most interesting, when the abstract digital realms of code, data and signals become contextually situated in the physical world and become tangible and visceral things.”

Felix is a student on MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation at The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies.

Find out more about Felix’s work on his website www.felixfaire.com and follow him on Twitter @felixfaire