Research Through Making III


Resonant Chamber is an interior envelope system that deploys the principles of rigid origami to transform the acoustic environment through dynamic spatial, material, and electro-acoustic technologies. Our aim is to develop a soundsphere able to adjust its properties in response to changing sonic conditions, altering the sound of a space during a performance and creating an instrument at the scale of architecture, so flexible and nimble that it might be capable of being played. The project is developed through three streams of iterative research and development in both computational testing and full-scale prototype installation: Dynamic Surface Geometries; Performative Material Systems; and Variable Actuation and Response.

In its third year, University of Michigan Taubman College's Research Through Making (RTM) Program provides seed funding for faculty research, worked on by faculty, students and interdisciplinary experts. Historically, research and creative practice have been constructed as "opposites." This is not an unusual struggle in architecture schools, particularly in the context of a research university. This perceived tension between design and research is indicative of age-old anxieties within the architecture field to understand its nature as an "applied art." Design can be a purely creative activity not unlike creative practices in music and art. In other cases, design can be a purely problem solving activity, not unlike research in engineering and industrial production.

Typology Resonant Chamber
date 2012
location University of Michigan
scale 250 sf full scale protoype
scope Design and prototyping of a dynamic acoustic envelope system. Research includes dynamic surface geometries (rigid origami), acoustic material testing, electroacoustic integration, sensing and actuation systems, wireless microprocessing, robotic fabrication, and manufacturing logics.


RVTR Geoffrey Thün and Wes McGee [Lead PIs], Kathy Velikov [Co-PI] TeamTeam: Lisa Sauvé [project coordinator], Mary O’Malley, Adam Smith, Colin Ripley, David Lieberman [design research] Katie Wirtz, Ian Ting, Lief Millar [prototyping]
Acoustics Raj Patel, Terence Caulkins and Dave Rife [ARUP Acoustics for the Americas]
Sensing Dr. Jerome Lynch, Devki Desai, Mike Kane [Embedded Sensing and Wireless Micro-system Integration]