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Part 1 Dissertation 1999
Anna Ryan
University College Dublin | Ireland
Last December I came across a set of drawings by Daniel Libeskind called Chamber Works. I love the way they suggest depth and space and yet have the strong sense of the lines, staves and movement of music. In studio we had been asked to choose an area of study for our second term's work. Having discovered these drawings, and as a player of music, I had found my topic. Architecture and Music.

I was uncomfortable with many existing ideas on the relations between these two disciplines, such as Schelling's architecture as "frozen music" and forced connections such as Holl's Stretto House. I wanted to explore these relationships myself and see what would happen.

Outside in the school quadrangle I set up an installation, a timber room. I created a sequence of spaces in sound, picking sections from music I knew well but with which others hopefully would not have any associations. In "the box" you sat down. There was a pile of butter paper, graphite, a candle, matches and a set of instructions asking the person to draw the spaces as suggested by the sounds. Each person spent fifteen minutes in the box alone.

Drawings from, and responses to this installation led me to consider that spatial concepts such as light, dark, movement, repetition, depth, surface, rhythms are perhaps more important to us as people than seeing space as volume and envelope. The drawings suggested musical graphic notation and the relationships between the making and the silent "visual" reading of art, architecture and music.

These drawings, thoughts and readings led me on to looking at implicit/graphical music and on a further exploration, to "play" a building. I first chose to play the plan of Mies' Brick House, me on cello and my sister Joanne on violin.

A tape and notebook are integral to this dissertation.

This project is an exploration, a process.
It is not yet ended.

'I am not interested in the stable core of the known, but in the turbulent edge of the barely conceivable. What architecture? What music?'
(Markus Novak)


Sounds and Signs, Aspects of Musical Notation
Hugo Cole, Oxford University Press 1974

Music, Passion for an Art
Jean Yves Bosseur Geneva 1991

Minimalism- Origins
Edward Strickland Indiana University Press 1993

Architecture as a Translation of Music
Ed. Elizabeth Martin Princeton Architectural Press

The Thinking Eye
Paul Klee

Anna Ryan

In UCD School Architecture the history and theory dissertation written in fourth year offers, among other things, the opportunity for students to consider their own relationship with the subject of architecture, how it relates to other interests, beliefs and abilities. The dissertation thus becomes a vehicle for a deeper exploration of what might otherwise remain a casual unconsidered connection. As well as being a very able student of architecture, Anna Ryan is also a gifted musician. Her dissertation details the story of her search for points of connection between these two disciplines. The relaxed, engaging writing style almost belies the seriousness of this dissertation's aims. There is a real and sustained attempt to get beyond the cliche of 'architecture as frozen music'. At the same time, there is a welcome willingness to test ideas, to proceed through experimentation and active engagement with the topic. The enthusiasm for things learnt at first hand is infectious and instructive. The dissertation documents a process of enquiry which will doubtless continue in Anna's future work. Perhaps this is its greatest strength: it feels like the beginning of something rather than an end in itself.

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