sonic sphere: reviving a radical modernist vision


The Shed, one of New York‘s most avant-garde cultural institutions, has announced the opening of Sonic Sphere, a groundbreaking new architectural space that pushes the boundaries of the traditional concert hall. Created by a team of boundary-pushing architects, Sonic Sphere will be suspended midair within the Shed soaring McCourt space, where it will run from June 9th through July 7th. The sphere is a vast, 65-foot-diameter structure that features immersive 3D sound and light explorations.


The concept for a spherical concert hall was initially conceived by Karlheinz Stockhausen, a radical composer known for his early innovations in electronic music. A version of his so-called Kugelauditorium was first presented as part of the German pavilion during the 1970 World Expoin Osaka, and proposed a space that would immerse its audience with dozens of precisely arranged speakers for a unique auditory experience. At the time, the space was envisioned specifically for a geodesic dome. Over a half-decade following Stockhausen’s futuristic proposal, the concept is taking shape in New York as a Sonic Sphere, curated by the Shed’s Artistic Director, Alex Poots.

shed sonic sphere
a rendering of Sonic Sphere in The Shed’s 115-foot-tall McCourt space, 2023 | courtesy The Shed



the shed’s immersive 3D sound space


With its innovating retro-futuristically inspired design, the Sonic Sphere will open as an immersive, larger-than-life space inside the Shed in New York. The project results from the collaboration between Ed Cooke, Merijn Royaards, and Nicholas Christie, who worked alongside lighting designer Polina Zakh to bring their vision to life. Inside the sphere, an audience of 250 people will gather in specially designed seating and a netted area in the center to experience music as a spatialized soundscape created by more than one hundred speakers that move sound above, below, through, and around their bodies. Dynamic lighting on the sphere’s surface completes the hyperreal, multisensory journey.


As a teenager I had read in an obscure book of Stockhausen’s Kugelauditorium, which appeared at the 1970 World Expo Osaka fair, alongside the first mobile phone,’ said Ed Cooke, Sonic Sphere Co-Founder.It was obviously a ridiculously cool idea, far more interesting and important than the phone. In the decades that followed, I became increasingly confused that since 1970 our society had created 15 billion mobile phones but no further spherical concert halls.’

a luminous, spherical concert hall will float inside the shed in new york
evening view of the shed from 30th street | image © Iwan Baan, courtesy the Shed



This revolutionary new space is the eleventh and most advanced Sphere to date, after iterations of increasing size and technical sophistication, beginning at Chateau du Feÿ’s creative commune and appearing in London, Mexico, at Black Rock City, and in Miami. With the arrival of Sonic Sphere at The Shed, New York City can now experience the transformative power of immersive sound and light like never before.


The Sonic Sphere is a space for transformative listening sessions and complete recorded albums featuring bespoke remixes of The xx‘s self-titled debut album and Steve Reich‘s groundbreaking Music for 18 Musicians. A playlist tracing one branch of electronic music’s family tree by legendary Detroit techno artist Carl Craig and a never-before-heard compilation by hypnotic Brooklyn-based musician Yaeji will also be featured. Live performances will also be part of the experience, with electronic music producer, drummer, artist, and activist Madame Gandhi kicking things off on June 9th. The program will also feature performances by pianist Igor Levit, world-renowned for his interpretation of Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari, and Jersey Club Queen DJ and producer UNIIQU3.