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The Metaphone: Is it a building or an instrument?


December 17, 2013

The Metaphone, by Herault Arnod Architects (Photo: André Morin)

The Metaphone, by Herault Arnod Architects (Photo: André Morin)

Image Gallery (21 images)

Though not unheard of, the melding of architecture and music is uncommon enough to pique our interest, especially when done on the scale of The Metaphone, by Herault Arnod Architects. The firm recently constructed an unusual combined music hall and instrument as centerpiece of an ongoing project to regenerate a former coal mine in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France.

Measuring 1,980 sq m (21,312 sq ft), and built at a cost of €6.3 million (roughly US$8.6 million), The Metaphone contains a fully-featured concert hall plus all necessary amenities and service areas within its black concrete walls. The project also nicely illustrates the evolution of our changing views on electricity production thanks to solar panels installed on the building's roof.

Without doubt though, The Metaphone's main draw is its unusual musical abilities.

Essentially, The Metaphone can be thought of as a very large (and rather expensive) instrument to be experienced from within or outside. Its facade sports metal plates which produce musical notes when manipulated by vibration. These plates are played from within the building's musical control room, via MIDI keyboards hooked up to a computer-equipped sound system.

Additionally, within the building's porch area are other assorted instruments such as large xylophones, drums, cymbals and singing bowls – all of which are hooked up to MIDI keyboards in the control room.

The best way to get a sense of what The Metaphone is all about is to check out the short video below, which was made as a smaller proof-of-concept version of the musical facade before the building was constructed.

Source: Herault Arnod Architects

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams


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