Sonic Wall
This system uses continuous longitudinal constructions (strips), which define spaces to interact with the pedestrians in a double way (as sender and receiver), collecting and transmitting public experiences with important cultural content.


In its particular application for the main political square in Bogota, the continuous strips define circulation and permanence spaces, the first acting as receivers and the second as sound sources in the context of a sound art piece. The prototype was presented at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2012 with two other interactive designs of the Universidad Piloto de Colombia.


The artwork intends to discover new dimensions between the interactive aspect of the architecture at an emotional level, and the sociological (and political) motivations to inspire such building. Is largely influenced by Deyan Sudjic ideas on his book “Architecture of power”:


“Building is not just about the practical provision of shelter, or the construction of the modern infrastructure of a state. Though it may appear to be rooted in pragmatism, it is a powerful and extraordinarily revealing expression of the human psychology. (…) What architecture does – as no other cultural form can – is to glorify and magnify the individual autocrat and suppress the individual into the mass. It can be seen as the first and still one of the most powerful, forms of mass communication.”


And later:


“One one level, architecture never changes. Despite the veneer of the contemporary architecture is intimately concerned with the primal issues confronting us in our attempts to come to terms with who we are, and where we are, and what life is. Architecture is constantly about the same things: power, glory, spectacle, memory, and identity. (…) Architecture does trigger emotional responses at a personal level, as well as for a society at large. It reflects our vanities and our aspirations, our weaknesses and our ambitions and our complexes.”



This interactive installation is compromised by three Sharp infrared sensors measuring the proximity of an object (a human hand) in a range of 20 to 150 cm. The information obtained from this reading distance is processed by the computer through Arduino open source hardware platform, which finally sends the data to a custom designed patch for this project using the programming language Puredata. The interaction consists in the activation of a recording when a hand approaches the sensor, generating sound wave defragmentation (grains) of random size, returning to its original state as the hand moves away from the device. Said defragmentation occurs in another layer, sounding simultaneously with the original waveform.

Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Audience interacting with the sonic wall.

Each sensor activates a field recording taken in the three areas that compromise the concept of  “power” in the Plaza de Bolívar (Bogotá), -which could be a reflection of any place in Latin America-: Presidential Palace, Primate Church, public square (plaza).

Through interactive granular synthesis, it is possible to “populate” each soundscape from the spaces mentioned, in the same way that humans occupy or vacate these architectural constructions., triggering significant emotional responses in the process.


Developed by:

César Díaz, Ivanna Díaz, Juan Carlos Vásquez, Karol Bastidas

Project direction: Arch. Rodrigo Velasco

Sound direction: Juan Carlos Vásquez

(Article by "Architects' Journal" - UK)

Architecture in every sense

18 April, 2012 | By Rakesh Ramchurn

Universidad Piloto de Colombia exhibit Public realm furniture that uses light, sound and movement to interact with pedestrians

One of the most eye-catching sights at the Milan Furniture Fair so far was a display by designers at Universidad Piloto de Colombia of public realm furniture that used light, sound and movement to interact with pedestrians.

A reclining chair was developed with proximity sensors, which allowed the work to glow in warm (red/pink) colours when people approached it, and to glow in cooler (blue/green) colours when passers-by moved further away.

Audio interaction with pedestrians came in the form of a sound wall. The designers used the motifs of church, politics and people (the three principal powers of Latin American countries, so one of the designers told me) to select the sounds that would be played by the sound wall when in proximity to passers-by. These included church music, inaugural presidential addresses and the sounds of chatter.

Finally, the team exhibited stools that would move around their location, forming a line of seats when a bus approached, then moving away from the space when no longer needed.


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Juan Carlos Vasquez - Composer, Sound Artist and Researcher