The visual aspect of architecture is undeniable, but few often consider how a space sounds. Back in December, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman wrote “Dear Architects: Sound Matters,” to state that, although it is not as obvious to those of us who still have our hearing, “that doesn’t make it any less an architectural material than wood, glass, concrete, stone or light,” he says. But sound goes even further than these tangible materials—similar to smell, it contributes to the ambience of a space, and, as architects Ricardo Scofidio, AIA, and Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, mention in the same article, it reaffirms life and lets a presence be known. But what if you could elevate the sound of a space into a full-on composition?
“Dialogues” is a limited edition, vinyl-only album (also available on streaming service SoundCloud) featuring songs by British-Ghanian musician and mathematician Peter Adjaye, or AJ Kwame, released by independent British music arts enterprise The Vinyl Factory. Each track on the album translates his older brother, architect David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA’s, built work into a musical composition. Equally talented as his designer brother, whose National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on Washington D.C.’s National Mall in September. Peter recorded ten tracks, that each represent a different building by David, including the Dirty House in London to the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.
The compositions vary in mood, but are all an enjoyable mesh of classical and wordly instruments, such as violins and gongs, met with contemporary sounds of synth and a slight influence of 90s-era hip-hop. According to The Guardian's architecture critic, Oliver Wainwright, Peter had a breakthrough career as a musician in the 90s after graduating with both a degree in engineering from the University of Sussex, in Brighton, England, complemented by a PhD in mathematics, in which he focused on the golden ratio—a system heavily used by the likes of Le Corbusier for his Modulor system for architectural proportions.
The double album is nuzzled in a folded sleeve with swaths of copper (similar to the iron castings of the soon-to-public Washington, D.C. museum, shown above) in the interior and used for the hand-drawn image by David. Inside buyers will find 16 pages of designs by London-based Adjaye Associates inspired by the musical experience itself, ultimately creating a very meta work of art.