mandai architects' installation uses sound-generating glass to emit nature's noise

mandai architects' installation uses sound-generating glass to emit nature's noise

during the milan design week 2018, a novel ‘soundscape’ was created by japanese studio mandai architects inside an old warehouse at milano centrale station. sound-generating glass incorporates a brand-new design making use of a special intermediary layer in between the glass layers. when using this material as a transducer to generate sound — much like a speaker’s diaphragm — the innovative design mitigates the inherent resonance characteristics of glass and produces clear beautiful sounds.

all images © akihide mishima



designed together with asahi glassmandai’s exhibit uses transparent glass and the intangible nature of sound to capture a moment in time where a single sheet of glass has shattered into a number of shards dispersed throughout the air, making visitors feel like time has stopped. each of the 35 sheets of glass scattered throughout this space emits a different nature sound, each transmitted through a multi-source audio setup.



just like when taking a real nature walk, this exhibit provides a multi-layered soundscape in which the sounds can be sensed differently depending on the location at which they are being heard, in addition to providing each visitor with a distinctly different scene to experience. sound sources for the nature sounds used in this space are all taken from field recordings, and the overarching exhibit theme ‘water cycle’, wherein water vapor turns into water droplets, which then flow as water through streams until they reach the ocean.



a special design setup has been adopted for this installation: in order to convey visually that sound is, in fact, being emitted from the glass itself, the exciter (the sound source) for each unit has been installed at a location separate from the glass, with vibrations being conveyed via fine wire to the glass material (similar to how a tin can telephone connected by string or wire operates). the result is an impressive speaker setup in which sound seems to be emitted by shards of glass simply suspended in the air.


vide by AGC














project info:


client: agc

spatial design: motosuke mandai (mandai architects)

structural engineer: yoshiyuki hiraiwa

music and sound composition: takashi tsuda

sound space design: yuji tsutsumida

graphic design: ken okamoto (ken okamoto design office inc.)

project management: adk arts

project coordination: ixi

construction: xilografia nuova

photography: akihide mishima


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

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