Peter and David Adjaye on the Sonic Collaboration. | Video by The Spaces
PAIRING A GLOBAL PORTFOLIO of major cultural centers and public institutions with projects that span furniture and textile design, architect David Adjaye‘s latest pursuit is a musical collaboration with his brother. A DJ, musician and sound designer with degrees in mathematics and computer engineering, Peter Adjaye, has been composing musical accompaniments for his older brother’s buildings over the past decade.
David describes what Peter does as sound architecture, a mix of both sound installations intended to be played in the physical spaces he has designed and stand-alone soundtracks inspired by the buildings. They have culled the musical compositions for “Dialogues,” a vinyl album being released on July 15.
Sharing a love of music in their youth, the Tanzanian-born, British architect and his London-based brother (their parents are Ghanaian) discussed the forthcoming album with The Spaces in the video above. (The Spaces is a London-based, digital magazine published by VF Publishing, a subsidiary of The Vinyl Factory, which is releasing the album.)
“I think people are overly obsessed with the visual in architecture. For me at its most successful it is not really about the visual markers, but the way in which it lifts up people and that’s a kind of sensorial, multi-sensorial experience,” David says.
“I think people are overly obsessed with the visual in architecture. For me at its most successful it is not really about the visual markers, but the way in which it lifts up people and that’s a kind of sensorial, multi-sensorial experience.” — David Adjaye, The Spaces
PETER ADJAYE and DAVID ADJAYE, “Dialogues.” | via The Vinyl Factory
The 10-track album incldes commissions for 10 spaces, including the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway; the Idea Stores in London; and the Upper Room, an exhibition space designed for David’s friend, the artist Chris Ofili.
For the Asymmetric Chamber, an art/architecture installation that presents David’s architecture as a “journey defined by light, material and music,” Peter responded to the recycled materials and rough exterior of the space, creating a sound installation using a “woody-sounding” Japanese string instrument called a koto.
“I felt a strong premonition of what kind of sounds would make that space come alive in terms of the material,” he says.
“I felt a strong premonition of what kind of sounds would make that space come alive in terms of the material.” — Peter Adjaye, The Spaces
For Dirty House, a residence and studio space for two London artists, Peter composed a soundtrack that starts off low-key and transitions to a lively disco beat. He wanted the music to reflect the duality of the building, which is dark and foreboding on the outside, and a light-filled, playful space with high ceilings on the inside.
“Hearing a composer or a musician playback what they think they are seeing or what they are feeling is a very powerful thing for an architect to receive,” David says.
In September, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening its doors in Washington, D.C. David served as lead designer for the Smithsonian museum.
“It would be amazing to see what you would make of that soundtrack,” David muses. Peter says he is already working on it. CT
“David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material,” was published recently to coincide with a major exhibition exploring David Adjaye’s architectural designs that was organized by the Haus der Kunst in Berlin and on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. Five years ago, David traveled all over Africa, researching the continent’s architecture and published a seven-volume tome titled “African Metropolitan Architecture.” Peter Adjaye responded by composing “African Metropolitan Music,” a companion soundtrack to the volume.