Margarita Calero Architect
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Can Music translate into Architecture?

The project for the Center of Contemporary Music Research in Athens was inspired by the piece of music ‘Deserts’, composed by the innovative composer Edgard Varèse in 1954, who is considered one of the pioneers of electronic music. 

The piece is divided into seven very distinct parts, four orchestral sections interpolated by three segments of electronic music. There is a clear dichotomy between the electronic and the orchestral, but there is a structure in which the latter organizes the former. We saw that dichotomy as having a very spatial condition, and we interpreted it in two ways. On the one hand, we used different materials, each one giving shape to a different part of the design. The orchestral music is represented by the mesh tunnels, whose continuous circulation and its rises and drops stand for the fluidity of the music and its sudden changes in speed. The electronic music, much more artificial and cold, is exemplified by the concrete walls in which geometric figures have been carved out.  On the other hand, the particular structure of the musical piece is represented by a mechanism that allows the conceptual model to open 360 degrees, inverting itself. When the block is closed, two separate circulations are intertwined but unconnected. When it opens, external openings allow the circulation from one half to the other in sudden places. The external walls that once delimited the cube become short-circuited, allowing the unexpected to take place.

After the interpretation of the piece of music, we developed a project for the Center of contemporary music research in Athens, Greece. The project transforms the concept idea in a prism made by two volumes that encloses the program: auditorium, conference room, studios, research lab, classrooms, coffee-shop. We transformed the dichotomy of the conceptual idea in two positions of the building, closed and open. When it is closed, the building works as the Center of Contemporary Music Research. When it opens, the building allows the auditorium to become part of the urban scene of Athens, an extension of a public plaza. 

  • Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Prize 2013 GSAPP Columbia, honored by Arch. Steven Holl
  • This Project was selected for archiving and published in the book ABSTRACT 2012/2013 – Annual GSAPP Columbia Publication and ‘Educating Architects’ on the Article written by Mark Wigley, in the Domus Magazine, and exhibited at T Space Gallery in New York.


LOCATION: Athens, Greece

YEAR: 2013

SIZE:16,145 GSF

PROGRAM:Auditorium, Classrooms, Café, Outdoor spaces


Alfonso Simelio Jurado [STEVEN HOLL DESIGN STUDIO]