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Le Cylindre Sonore | Architectuul


Keywords Change this

Sound, Monument

Project timeline

1986 – 1987


Monument & Memorial

Location Change this

211 Avenue Jean Jaurès
75019 Paris

Architect Change this

Le Cylindre Sonore Change this

Paris, France
by Bernhard Leitner Change this
1 of 9

Description Change this


Le Cylindre Sonore is a cylindrical space located within Parc de la Villete, that is conceived as a hub or transitional space within the landscape. The space uses sound as the primary element to provide the transition between the north and south sides of the park. It is built up as a double cylinder: The outer wall acting as a retaining wall and acoustical buffer, while the inner wall containing 8 perforated - precast concrete panels. There is enough space between the inner and outer wall to act as an acoustical chamber, with three speakers mounted at different heights, serving as a resonator. The sounds produced encourages visitors to stop, listen, linger, and reflect before continuing their journey through the park.


Architecture and Sound create spaces with changing flexible contours. They create invisible territories which by not being limited by physical boundaries increase their impact. Of course, one argues that architecture is visual and expresses the will to establish limits and boundaries. While these boundaries are elementary, they cannot convey the complete adventure of architecture. Through its very essence the inside formulates an outside. And the exterior of a building creates further spaces, it gives rise to the city and all the subtle interconnections which make for the richness of the city.
Bernhard Leitner is one of the few, and in this assumes an important role, who pursue connections which constantly interact and combine, in order to fill our spaces with simultaneous attraction of the architectural and sonorous. As an architect and composer of sound he knows that perception includes sound material, which one has to learn to master, and the dynamic lines which make us see and enter built space.

Sound is not this undefined, unfocused envelope which subordinated us to the mastery of nature and from which there is no escape. Sound is measurable, it draws lines, builds walls and permeates according to architectural rules. This space in which we find ourselves, and which emanates from our bodies, unites our perceptions, our movement, and our ability to decode perceptions to which our various cultures assign varying interpretations.

Space and Sound have no definite spans of time. They stand for a transitory situation without end and create a continuum. Bernhard Leitner shows us a space for seeing and hearing which we take in and change. Even our breathing is part of this non-static architecture. His kinetic and architectural compositions reveal aspects of the world and constitute as defined spaces (receptacles for the body: Sound Space at the Technical University of Berlin, “Cylindre Sonore” in the Parc de la Villette) the potential for a new architecture which brings together the experience of the architect, the art of the composer and the determining will of the sculptor.

Le Cylindre Sonore is embedded in a bamboo garden, a valley-like, sunken landscape in the Parisian Parc de la Villette. A sound architecture commissioned and implemented as piece of public art, as intervention artistique, for the Section IV of the park. The upper end of the double cylinder is at the same level as the bordering allees. Coming from the park, one descends a long stairway into the sound space before actually entering the garden. On leaving it, one once again walks through the sound space before one ascends to the park situated on a higher level.

The sound that can be heard from the outside attracts the passersby, inviting them to stop and focus on the static and stationary form. A closed architecture, only covered by the open sky, intended as a conscious delimitation from the spatious park. A cylindric space that allows a concentrated listening of the place, a contemplative rediscovery of oneself in transcendence of the place.

The inner diameter of the double cylinder is 10m, the height 5m. Behind the eight perforated concrete elements three loudspeakers have been mounted vertically like a column. The circular space between the two curved walls is a functional space for the maintenance of the loudspeakers. It provides access to the control room under the ground. The ring is, however, first and foremost a resonsance chamber, which consolidates the sound by means of weight and tension of the curved surfaces.

From each concrete element, water forms narrow rivulets into the basin which encloses the ground of the cylinder space like an island. The hushing sound distracts from the sounds of the urban environment, neutralizing the space. The rivulets acoustically tune the inner space. They are a prerequisite for the acoustic sensors and cells, ears, skin, the body and the brain being able to listen in a concentrated way.

Sound spaces are constructed, developed, varied in the Cylindre Sonore between the sound columns behind the eight perforated concrete elements, i.e., between 24 loudspeakers. These are temporal spaces. Statically drifting, room-filling sound-tissue; circular supporting sound lines tracing the shape of the architectural instrument; prickling, high-pitched sounds along the envelope walls contrast with the archaic static of the concrete cylinder. Massive , heavy or light, transparent spatial bracings; guitar tissue as static filler material; material with a delayed reverberation time softens the concrete.


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