Dubai, UAE
Interactive architecture
Media technology public space
Credit List:
Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Eric Höweler, J. Meejin Yoon, Alex Marshall

Aviary is a unique interactive audiovisual environment designed by Höweler + Yoon and Parallel Development. It creates a playful inhabitable sculpture inviting the user to explore, interact and create musical and color compositions. Aviary responds to the touch with a display of light and sound effects that evokes a bird in flight or a bird’s natural habitat. Like a shared musical instrument, Aviary can be “played” by one or many users. Each pole has a unique set of related sounds that range from bird songs at the top to abstracted musical interpretations at the bottom. A casual touch creates a vertical burst of light and sound, while a sustained hold slowly fills the column with light and sound. Sliding up and down the pole causes the sounds to be blended in a unique and dynamic sound effect. A quick slide up the pole causes a burst of light to float up to the top and migrate to adjacent poles; audio likewise migrates across the poles, giving the illusion of a moving sound source.

Located in the Dubai Mall in two clusters, each Aviary forms the shape of a spiral with poles of varying heights, from 2.5 meters to 4 meters, with the tallest poles at the center of the composition. Experienced in the space, users may follow the spiral from outside to inside, finding themselves “within” the coil of the spiral. The surround sound effects are best appreciated from within the center of the spiral. The poles are arranged in a network, allowing light and sound behaviors to be played on multiple poles at once and to create the surround sound effect of a bird flying around. The lighting is achieved through full-color Light Emitting Diode (LEDs) on a four-sided interior core.

Aviary’s hardware is complimented by sophisticated custom software. The software takes into account a single user or multiple users, and the sound and light responses are played out throughout the whole spiral. Like a musical instrument, it can be played in many ways: tapping, stroking, holding, wiping, etc. Custom software recognizes gestures to know when a touch is a basic touch event or a “throw” touch event. When there aren’t any touch events, Aviary goes into a “dream mode” playing through a series of “remembered” touch events. It also can play a series of 3-dimensional animated graphics that can evoke clouds, fireworks, smoke, and falling water. The un-triggered mode can behave like a 3-dimensional screen, capable of “broadcasting” any type of content.