Cimbalom Circle - CODAworx

Cimbalom Circle

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Client: House of music, Hungary

Location: Budapest, Hungary

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $750,000

Project Team

Creative Director

Melissa Mongiat

Daily tous les jours

Creative Director

Mouna Andraos

Daily tous les jours

Producer

Stu Wershof

Daily tous les jours

Industrial Design

Dikini

Dikini

Engineering

ParaDesign

ParaDesign

Liget Park contractor

Pannon Park Forest

Pannon Park Forest

Overview

Cimbalom Circle is a series of musical tiles that create impromptu orchestras out of pedestrian choreographies. Commissioned for Budapest’s House of Music, signed by architect Sou Fujimoto, the work pays tribute to Hungary’s musical legacy. At the center of the artwork is the Cimbalom, a stringed instrument invented in the capital in 1874. People walk a tune, play their own games, or dance, creating ever-evolving contemporary compositions with traditional sounds.
A key attraction of Liget Park, the artwork joined the permanent collection of currently Europe’s largest urban cultural development. The artwork lives permanently in the urban architecture and opens up the magic of playing music together for all ages and backgrounds. As people play along, inhibitions are lost and spontaneous performances take place. These performances bring a sense of closeness between users and onlookers.
How it works: 36 interactive light units are embedded in concrete tiles. Place your foot, wheel, hand on a unit to play a note. Tap multiple sensors to play arpeggios. Explore alone or with others – the rhythms depend on the distance between the sensors played. Music emanates from the ground as if by magic thanks to in-house tailored solid speaker tiles, developed to blend into the pavement pattern.

Goals

A key feature before entering the House of Music, Cimbalom Circle is a multi-generational experience that pays tribute to the city’s musical heritage by making accessible to all the joy of playing a traditional musical instrument together. It encourages collective expression and social interaction in public space. The audio and sensor systems are seamlessly integrated to the urban infrastructure.

This project was designed with accessibility at heart. The interactive pavement makes it easy for passers-by to walk or roll to play, not requiring any knowledge in music to create harmony together. Cimbalom Circle is a universal invitation to move body and mind, across barriers of cultures, languages, ages or origins. The music intuitively created stimulates play and experimentation, inviting people to loosen inhibitions and become more aware of each other. Conversations between strangers are sparked. Ultimately, the work acts as a catalyst for joyful informal connections.

Process

Our design team worked with the physical parameters of the site and the technical requirements of the artwork to create a layout that has local meaning and offers a fun collaborative experience.

Our industrial design and engineering team redesigned, prototyped, tested, and fabricated the audio tiles to fit the layout of the site and meet our audio quality standards. The remote work from Montreal to Budapest during the pandemic was a challenge, but we were able to visit the site twice making sure the installation went according to plan.

The language barrier on site was also challenging- and funny at times! We had a translator for part of the installation, but we also had to use hand gestures and google translate to communicate with the local crew.

Additional Information

Interaction Design Explore alone or with others to compose many melodies – the rhythms depend on the distance between the sensors played. Step on one sensor, then another, then another and create a loop, drawing patterns of music, and light, with your feet. The sensors are arranged in clusters with dedicated speakers, allowing for a variety of interactions between participants: Play with one sensor group, while other people play other sensor groups, like a band on different instruments, or play up-close with others on the same sensor group, like a duet. Music emanates from the ground as if by magic. The sound system comprises in-house tailored speaker tiles developed to have no visible hardware, resist outdoor conditions and blend into the pavement pattern.