The National Building Museum and Studio Gang present Hive, the latest Summer Block Party installation in the Great Hall.
Soaring to the uppermost reaches of the Museum, Hive is built entirely of more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, a construction material that is recyclable, lightweight, and renewable. The tubes vary in size from several inches to 10 feet high and will be interlocked to create three dynamic interconnected, domed chambers. Reaching 60 feet tall, the installation’s tallest dome features an oculus over 10 feet in diameter. The tubes feature a reflective silver exterior and vivid magenta interior, creating a spectacular visual contrast with the Museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior and colossal Corinthian columns.
Hive’s form recalls other built and natural structures such as Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, vernacular Musgum mud huts in Cameroon, and the curvature of a spider’s web. By utilizing the catenary shape, each chamber will balance structural forces and support its own weight, while attaining a height that enables a unique acoustic signature. The tall yet intimate forms allow visitors to inhabit the installation at the ground level and to experience it from the Museum’s upper-floor balconies, providing a variety of exciting perspectives.
Explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction. Hive’s smaller chambers feature tubular instruments ranging from simple drum-like tubes to chimes suspended within the space. Each chamber has a unique acoustic properties that will affect the instruments’ tone, reverberation, and reflection as well as visitors’ perceptions. The large main chamber is topped by a soaring dome that filters the natural light of the Great Hall and creates intricate light and shadow patterns in the space. Just outside the installation, Philadelphia-based design educator Alex Gilliam’s notched cardboard Build It! Disks provide a hands-on cooperative building activity.
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