Invisible architecture

Kuehn Malvezzi + Transsolar

Invisible architecture

Contrary to what one would expect from an exhibition in an architecture gallery, the installation realized jointly by Kuehn Malvezzi and Transsolar was sensually perceptible, but not conspicuous. The experiment is based on an understanding of architecture that does not define architecture and thus also the city decisively through objects, but instead focuses on the perception of space and therefore advocates new forms of cooperation.

How a user perceives a space goes far beyond the visible. Consequently, visitors to "Invisible Architecture" could also have experienced the exhibition blindly. What they saw were two seemingly identical rooms - of the same size, white and empty. Only by speaking, calling or singing could the very considerable differences be experienced. While one room seemed homogeneous and muffled, the other revealed different acoustic properties such as reverberation, surprising sound transmissions or amplifications, depending on the position in the room.

The radically different properties of the rooms, which looked the same, were the result of precise measures that Transsolar had investigated in detailed modelling and simulations. In the exhibition as a 1:1 model, these were installed invisible to the visitors. Behind the visually perceptible clear room edges, for example, was a complex room geometry that generated the various effects of the reverberating room.

Acoustic comfort is an aspect that is often neglected in planning. Freed from visual distractions, however, the 1:1 model, together with the impressions of the users or exhibition visitors, showed very well how acoustic properties influence the overall perception of the room, what feels pleasant and what feels less so. The installation was therefore also exemplary in a much broader sense: "Invisible Architecture" has redistributed the roles of architect and engineer.

Architecture, understood as a primarily spatial practice, opens the way for real community work. The conventional distribution of roles, in which an overall picture created by architects merely integrates the solutions of engineers, is discarded in favor of an architectural and urban planning approach characterized by the co-authority of the planners involved.