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architectural sound device

MEMBRANE is an architectural sound device that transforms outdoor noise into habitable indoor sound. It was developed as a conceptual prototype within our ongoing research in noise transformation and masking strategies.

The majority of buildings are acoustically isolated from the outside. Yet, together with the undesired noise, the inner building is cut off from the soundscape of the local community, the animal life and the weather. In contrast to the numerous defensive strategies for noise abatement, there has only been a rare development of creative solutions that are easy to integrate and scalable across different architectural contexts.

Membrane was developed as a compact unit: Like a biomembrane, the device acts as a selectively permeable barrier for sound. The streetscape is captured by an outdoor microphone and filtered so that only selected frequencies of the signal pass. Through an exciter speaker, the processed sound is played back into the inner window. A combination of two circular controllers allow the user to adjust the volume of the outside as well as the degree of the transformation.

The noise is not experienced as waste, but as a resource for an ever-changing, pleasant and calming acoustic atmosphere. Shifting across 12 different tempers throughout a day’s cycle, the ‘Membrane’ allows a meaningful relationship to the outside, harmonizing the needs of the persons inside with the liveliness of their environment.

MEMBRANE can be connected and controlled via WiFi and BLE. A lightweight smartphone app allows for an easy integration of the sound device into the everyday schedules and routines.

The custom built outdoor microphones are designed for long term installations without maintenance needs. The rainproof aluminium case reduces RFI interferences and can be painted in any desired color. Four tiny spikes help to keep the wind shield protected from the potential visits of some cheeky birds...

A project by:

Studio for Sonic Architecture (Alexander Pospischil and Ludwig Berger)