Sonic Trace

Despite my best efforts, I failed to put up a post last week because I have been devoting my spare time to another architecture competition.  Unlike my last contest experience, this one had a much shorter timeframe, and I was in quite a rush to get it done.


KCRW is a public radio station in Los Angeles.  I have listened, as podcasts, to many of their programs over the years, including Good Food, Morning Becomes Eclectic, and DnA.  I was visiting my old favorite BLDGBLOG the other day and came across one of Geoff's periodic link roundups, which included a number of upcoming contests.  One was for Sonic Trace, designing and constructing a mobile sound booth for KCRW to use to collect stories from around California.


I couldn't resist.  This one hit all of my architectural obsessions: design/build, small-scale, mobile, sustainable, and engaged in the telling of stories.  It has a tight budget, and includes some video on DIY soundproofing, a boot-strapping approach with which I am quite familiar.  Coincidentally, I had just been looking at a teardrop trailer on Instructables, and thinking, as I often do, about the nomadism that has brought me here to Chicago.


I built a model in SketchUp, printed it, traced layers, re-scanned those layers, and composited the result in Photoshop. 

I wanted those sweet Prismacolor markers, but there was no time.

There is darkness everywhere.  Shadows, if you will.
While the brief doesn't specifically call for a structure that is on wheels (dis-assemble-able is fine), I thought a trailer-based solution would be ideal, as it requires no set-up and break-down.    I based my design on a 4' x 8' flatbed, off-the-shelf utility trailer (the same footprint that began this very blog), which can be had for a grand or two new.  A half-dozen or so iterations later, I landed on a sort of barrel-vaulted form that references gypsy wagons, Airstreams, Vanagons, VW buses, and even old-school radio mics.  A cedar rain screen keeps that hot L.A. sun at bay, weathering to a streamlined gray over time.  Inside, an intimate carpeted space is well-soundproofed with foam insulation and Homasote.  The two end walls are light boxes for station identity and recording status.


Put together, to the best of my ability.  
Architectural competitions have a long history in design, especially in design education, and I keep searching for ones that investigate my interests.  They allow me to spend some time engaged in research and design, while gaining a measure of publicity for my work and possibly the chance to build something, all while keeping my design chops up since I'm not always using those skills on a daily basis.  Already, (no offense, Rabbit Island), I think these renderings came out better than my last work, and hopefully the next ones will be even better . . .  Big thanks to the lady for her killer graphic design skills, which really made the presentation tight.


The Echo Chamber.  A little cheesy, I know, but hey, I was pressed for time. How am I expected to perform under those conditions?

The rear panel would be red acrylic with laser-etched panels, so that it can light up when people are inside recording.  

The technical bits.