this summer, soaring to the uppermost levels of washington, DC’s national building museum is ‘hive’ — an interactive installation comprising three interconnected, domed chambers. designed by studio gang, the structure is made from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes — making it a recyclable, lightweight, and renewable construction. the tallest 60-foot-tall dome features a 10 foot diameter oculus, inside which visitors can explore how material can modify and reflect sound, light, and scale.

studio gang hive
the interactive installation comprises three interconnected, domed chambers
all images by tim schenck, courtesy of the national building museum



‘when you enter the great hall you almost feel like you’re in an outside space because of the distance sound travels before it is reflected back and made audible,’ said studio gang founding principal jeanne gang. ‘we’ve designed a series of chambers shaped by sound that are ideally suited for intimate conversations and gatherings as well as performances and acoustic experimentation. using wound paper tubes, a common building material with unique sonic properties, and interlocking them to form a catenary dome, we create a hive for these activities, bringing people together to explore and engage the senses.’

studio gang hive
the structure is made from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes



studio gang has designed ‘hive’ in a catenary shape, with each of the three chambers balancing structural forces and supporting its own weight. the tall yet intimate forms feature a polished silver exterior and vibrant magenta interior, creating a sharp contrast to the national building museum’s nineteenth-century interior. visitors can both inhabit the installation at ground level and engage with it from the museum’s upper-floor balconies.

studio gang hive
‘hive’ is a recyclable, lightweight, and renewable construction



‘through their use of space and materials, studio gang pushes the limits of our summer series to new heights, literally and figuratively,’ said chase w. rynd, hon. asla, executive director of the national building museum. ‘they have ingeniously coopted a commonplace material—the paper tube—into the ultimate building block, capable of reaching dazzling heights and affecting the sound, light, and scale of our surrounding building.’

studio gang hive
the tallest 60-foot-tall dome features a 10 foot diameter oculus



‘hive’s’ smaller chambers foster intimate encounters through the addition of tubular instruments — such as simple drum-like tubes and chimes — suspended within. each area contains unique acoustic properties that have an affect on the instruments’ tone and reverberation. the large chamber draws visitors inside to engage with each other and the structure under a colossal dome that welcomes natural light from the great hall, creating a dynamic interplay of light and shadow patterns within. a program of free events complement ‘hive’, including collaborations for interactive theatrical and musical performances.

studio gang hive
visitors can explore how material can modify and reflect sound, light, and scale

studio gang hive
visitors can both inhabit the installation at ground level and experience it from the museum’s upper-floor balconies



making-of ‘hive’ at national building museum

studio gang hive
section, courtesy of studio gang

studio gang hive
plan, courtesy of studio gang

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