City of voids – Final city “魂市“


CONCEPT - Unseen city

With our organic and meditative quality of our sound, we would imagine our city to be a closed society of people living a life of reclusive and simple life. The concept of our city is for it to be unseen and hidden, only to be noticed when you stare hard enough.



One of our inspirations was the Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima island, that features famous works of Monet and James Turrell. The architecture of the private art museum was designed and curated by Japanese architecture Tadao Ando, where the entire building was structured to be viewed and experienced like an art piece.

The art museum was incredibly beautiful, where the art works housed in an architectural piece of art created a whole new experience for me. No photos were allowed in the museum which made the experience more meaningful. 
Horizontal cavity in ADM carpark

The museum made use of natural light and angular forms to create different appearances at different times of the day. Thus, we decided to use a deep, angular cavity in the car park, that receives natural light to house our city. The presence of rocky terrain and white, angled surfaces suited our concept of a quiet and calm city.

“Open Sky” James Turrell (2004)

Initially, we wanted to create a hanging box constructed with white walls so that the viewer can “stick their heads in” to view the workings of the city. The white box could blend in with white wall surfaces and stay hidden. A square hole will be cut on the surface, inspired by James Turrell “Open sky”, where light can be reflected on the surfaces and move with the different times of day. However, we could not find any suitable place to hang our box and it did not fit the requirement of a plug in city.


For our modular unit, we decided to create a cuboid voids of vary sizes. Each unit compose the overall structure of our city, where the inhabitants are bound by the implied space.


Inspiration – Antony Gormley’s “Second Body” exhibition

Antony Gormley’s human sculptures is composed of modular cuboid structures, using arrangement and various sizes to imply form and create voids in his playful assemblage. Inspired by his use of modular units, our city will be constructed using the voids bounded by four surface of materials, such that what is seen is different from different angles.



 Constructing modular units  Prototype of arrangement


For our hub, we wanted to arranged the modular units to form an upward spiral, which will be hung in space. I was in charge of arranging the hub, varying the voids form between the units and creating the main void contained within the spiral.



For the habitat, we used modular units of similar shape to create an inverted city, that was supposed to be growing out of the ceiling surface. Nicholas and Zhen Yu made modular units out of art card and Nicholas did the arrangement.


Our highway of our structure is the smoke from incense, stemming from a “prayer circle” where inhabitants meditate on the gravel ground. We used wooden sticks to create a circle on the ground, surrounding an amphitheatre like hole. Zhen Yu made the wooden sticks for our fence. To add a sensory experience, we used jinkoh incense to create a meditative smell.


We decided to hang our city using a white foam board to blend in with the white wall.

Adjusting the angle of hanging elements due to angled ceiling
I used a raised height to angle the elements
Using of duct tape to attach the city
Installing the city
Bad day to wear heels

FINAL – “魂市“

Smoke spirits inhabit the city, hidden away for civilisation. You can’t see them in the day but at night they come out to play.

Incense burning – smoke rises

And we are done!

City of Voids – Final Mood box process


Sound A

For our final mood box, we decided to go with sound A. The quality of the sound is organic and meditative, inspiring our theme of serenity for our final mood box.


While listening to our sound, the sound of the wooden sticks reminded me of a bamboo water feature, especially those found in traditional Japanese gardens. Known as shishi-odoshi (“deer-scarer”), the bamboo mechanism uses the weight of falling water to create a “tak” sound to scare animals away.


The sound of the falling beads of the rain stick resembles the sound of shifting pebbles as people walk upon them. Thus, we adapted two features of the Japanese garden, the water bamboo feature and the rock gravel ground.


To represent the components of our sound visually:
Wood sticks – water bamboo mechanism
Falling beads of rain stick – water/ rain or sound of rocks
Triangle – sphere or spiral

Various ideas:


Proposed Idea 1:

A possible idea I proposed – creating a twisted plane of acrylic sticks to resemble the water sound of the rain stick
How the water bamboo mechanism will be incorporated
Top view

Taking the twisted plane of wool felt from my mood box, a possible idea was to create a twisted plane of clear acrylic sticks for the sub-ordinate.  We decided against this as we wanted the sub-ordinate to be more subtle to highlight the dominant structure.

Idea 2: Assemblage of materials to form voids
I found some references for inspiration on representing the water or rock interpretation of the sound of the rain stick.

Hanging rocks installation by Jaehyo Lee

Chair made out of acrylic sticks by Junpei Tamaki
> Using acrylic sticks vertically to create form of water and voids

We voted against this idea as it was too messy as we wanted to keep it minimal.


Materials and colours – We wanted to use a organic colour scheme for our final mood box, thus deciding on using white and mainly wood. Black was added as a contrast.

Frame – We decided to adapt the the use of wooden frame from Nicholas’ mood box as we are suspending our elements to suggest how sound occupies an empty vacuum.

Dominant – A pathway of three wooden carriages to represent the three beats of the wooden sticks
Sub-dominant – A twisted plane of white beads surrounding the dominant feature
Sub-ordinate – An upward spiral

Auditory and experiential component – Falling marble
We designed the dominant and sub-ordinate feature to interact with a falling marble to recreate our sound (tak-tak-tak-ding).


Initially, we were going to hang our elements with a cross made up of two wooden sticks but it did not give us much space to hang our elements. We decided to use a wire mesh to hang our elements, so I came up with a design of sandwiching the edges of the wire mesh with two wood sticks to hold the mesh. Glue gun was used to fill the space between the wooden sticks.

Initial design for the frame;         Securing the wire mesh

Zhen Yu cutting wood for the frame – Wood cutting expert!
Nicholas drilled holes through the wood

 Constructing the wooden frame for wire mesh
Fixing the cylindrical wood sticks into the drilled holes 

We decided on a diagonally linear pathway of wooden carriages, made by Zhen Yu and Nicholas, for the marble to fall upon. Initially, we wanted to hang the wooden carriages individually, but the pivotal swinging made it hard for the marble to fall on it. Thus, Nicholas made a wire structure to hold the wooden parts together.

Nicholas testing the trajectory with prototypes; Zhen Yu constructing a wooden carriage

Nicholas and his wire mechanism; testing the space within the frame


We decided on using white cloth beads and white wires to create a twisted plane that represented the sound of falling beads and should not take the focus off the dominant component. I beaded and constructed a spiral to be intertwined around the dominant feature.

Stringing the beads; Twisting the wire to create a spiral


For the sub-ordinate, we wanted to create a flat surface made out of metallic tubes but the sound created was too insignificant. Thus, Zhen Yu and I decided to made a upward spiral of hard wire to create a louder sound and catch the marble at the same time. The spiral was spray-painted black to contrast with the lighter colours of our mood box.

Initial sub-ordinate; Prototype design to catch marble


We suspended the elements using nylon string from the wire mesh frame.





Our final mood box represents our organic sound through visual and auditory means, where the key component of our sound is recreated with the dropping of the marble. The colours, materials and minimal design used suit the overall calmness and serenity of falling water we tried to convey.

City of Voids – sound analysis and sketch models

Instruments: Wood sticks, Rain stick and Triangle

Quality of sounds
Wood sticks – short and loud
Rain stick – sounds of falling water, length of sound depends on action and speed
Triangle – long and resounding


Dominant sound: Wood sticks
Sub-dominant sound: Rain stick
Sub-ordinate sound: Triangle

The rhythm of four and a half beats is constructed with a background sound of the falling water sounds of the rain stick. One cycle includes three beats of the rain stick loosely hitting each other follow by one and a half beats of the triangle.

White – one cycle
Yellow – Dominant
Red – Sub-dominant
Green – Sub-ordinate


Wood stick (dominant) – Gold wire > to stand out
Rain sound (sub-dominant)- White wool felt > subtle in the background
Triangle (sub-ordinate) – Red felt ball > Circular to capture resonance

I twisted the sheet of wool felt to create voids in space.

Final Model

top view

Comments (class):

  • The sub-ordinate is a resounding sound, the sphere is too solid and small.
    Edit: could replace the sphere ball with a material, perhaps wire or thread, of a large volume.


Dominant sound: Rain stick
Sub-dominant sound: Triangle
Sub-ordinate sound: Wood stick against table

One cycle is eight beat, with the rain stick being used like a shaker as the dominant beat of “dom chak chak”. The triangle is played after the three beats and at the end of the eighth beat, the sound of wood stick scrapped across table follows the triangle sound immediately.

White – one cycle
Red – Dominant
Yellow – Sub-dominant
Green – Sub-ordinate


As the composition involves individual beats with only slight overlap at the end of the cycle, I decided to create a space composing of individual, thin units.

Rain shaker (dominant) – Thin strips of hard plastic
Triangle (sub-dominant)- Red felt ball
Wood stick (sub-ordinate) – String

I placed the thin strips diagonally, seemingly to interact. 

The sub-dominant is elevated from the side. I used string to capture the rough sound from the wood stick scrapping the table top.


Comments (class):

– The dominant units are too literal, liken the rain sticks.
Edit: Replace with wire or overarching metal sheet with curves following the rhythm.

City of Voids – Research


‘Modular’ means employing or involving a module or modules as the basis of design or construction.

Modular design, or “modularity in design”, is a design approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules or skids, that can be independently created and then used in different systems.

The modules can be added, are interchangeable and removable, are used to create compositions, like lego blocks.


Cells – building block of matter



Anthropologie is a fashion brand whose window displays are filled with huge compositions of different materials, mainly paper and recyclable materials.

Antony Gormley is a fine artist who create human sculptures of various sizes and installations. His human figures are composed of various units of a certain material, using metal blocks or strips. His installations studies the relationship between space and human figures through voids.
Quantum Cloud
Sleeping field, 1993
Domain Field


The design of any system composed of separate components that can be connected together. In modular architecture, you can replace or add any one component (module) without affecting the rest of the system.

Vincent Callebaut Designs Modular Plug-and-Play Housing For Haiti
Italy coastal towns,c_limit/cefalu-sicily-GettyImages-538342835.jpg
“pixelated” luxury condo building in Queens