Musico-Spatial Design Research within the Continuum of Performance, Practice and the Academy


Musico-Spatial Design Research within the Continuum of Performance, Practice and the Academy
Colloque International : De Xenakis à nos jours : Le Continuum et son développement en musique et en architecture


The presentation brings together reflections on the continuum of Performance, Practice and the Academy that aims to address the wider interdisciplinary intentions of Iannis Xenakis. We reflect on the musical and spatial design synergies generated through design research within the three modalities of Performance, Practice and the Academy. ‘Design research’ as ‘researching through design (Downton 2003)’ provides a platform for creative practitioners to generate knowledge through their practice. The author will focus on a selection of his activities over twenty-five years as a musician (Performance), architect (Practice) and researcher (the Academy) seeking to cross-reference and find synergies between domains
PERFORMANCE: The ImprovScope Project
Whilst there has been intense examination of the continuum of music and architecture in relation to the outcome of musico-spatial design processes in the work of architects such as Xenakis , this creative research focuses away from the ‘product’ towards the actual creative process.
This research operates within the modality of ‘research through design (Downton 2003)’ at RMIT University Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory Sound Studios. The ‘ImprovScope’ project involves first-person explorations of the author’s improvisations on the electronic drum kit. This scoping out of the authors’ solo improvisational capacities will serve as the basis for musical compositions and creative works (See and is founded on improvisation as a vehicle through which to generate massive amounts of musical output. Improvisations are recorded in MIDI across three contexts: Beat and Fill; Drum Solo and Studio Beats, template at 100 BPM for 100 beats.
The project discusses the application of a spatial design parametric framework that offers affordance (Gibson 1979) to mediating a theoretical ‘musico-perspectival hinge (from Pérez-Gómez and Pelletier (1997)). The presentation contends that musicians who may be limited in their understanding of their music because of an inability to read, and in particular those who may be dominant in the visual-spatial thinking insights into the attributes that constitute their style. Through plan, section, elevation, axonometric projections and, ultimately, through 3D printing, drum based music is examined.
This element of the presentation discusses the application of the ‘Y Condition (Martin 1994)’ within the design of the author’s own house at Bells Beach, Australia. Concepts of music, including Golden Section geometry, overlays of beat structures in window fenestration and metaphorical references to searing guitar solo’s are embodied within this built work. This element of the paper will discuss how musical concepts must, in the real world, be reconciled against pragmatic, regulatory and construction issues.
The author reflects on a 16-year architectural design academic career and his current role in exploring musico-spatial design connections through design research. The Music Room project is discussed, wherein second year architectural design students were required to compose a ‘musique concrete’ piece, design a ‘Music Room’ space to listen to this, and construct a selection of these at 1;1. This project was run over a period of five years, resulting in around fifty projects being constructed.


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Centre Iannis Xenakis
European University of Cyprus
University of Cyprus
Université de Rouen
École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Normandie (Darnétal, Seine-Maritime)


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38 minutes 31 seconds


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Ham, Jeremy. Conférencier et European University of Cyprus, “Musico-Spatial Design Research within the Continuum of Performance, Practice and the Academy,” Centre Iannis Xenakis., consulté le 27 mai 2024,