Despite living in Paris since 2007 and regularly enjoying a walk in the Park de la Villette, we honestly never happened to find a little sound pavillion embedded in one of the thematic gardens of the park. Le Cylindre Sonore, a public art installation by Bernard Leitner, was realized in 1987 and is one of the few built architectural works by the Austrian architect and composer.
Active since the 60’s, Leitner’s work always focused on the relationships between sound and space, or better “sound as building material” as the title of one of his retrospective exhibitions.
Unlike architectural walls, sound is not an elementary medium for the definition of limits, and the separation of the interior from the exterior, yet is not a blurred, totally undefined entity, insofar it is able to create unseeable walls and define invisible spaces.
Partially hidden from the bamboos, Le Cylindre Sonore stands with his concrete double walls in a lower level respect of the bordering alleys, as an excavated hole voluntary delimiting the rest of the park. Once descended with a long staircase, one can experience a contemplative listening in a true resonating chamber, potentiated by three loudspeakers hidden behind eight perforated concrete walls. Water rivets increase the detail and help separating this place from the sides.
Through subtly orchestrated reverberations, high pitched or filled sounds, spaces are constantly recreated. Soft pricklings in a dialogue with the robustness of concrete walls.