Studio Gang’s “Hive” Opens at the National Building Museum


© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

Hive, Studio Gang’s 2017 Summer Block Party installation, has opened to the public at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Constructed from 2,551 silver-and-magenta wound paper tubes, Hive invites visitors to explore their senses in a series of dome-shaped chambers, each scaled to reflect a unique sound signature.

Utilizing structural paper tubes commonly used in construction as concrete formwork, Hive takes its form from the catenary physics that have inspired some of the world’s great structures such as the the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, and vernacular buildings such as Musgum mud huts in Cameroon.


© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

The installation plays with scale in surprising ways, its colossal exterior presence giving way to enveloping intimacy inside. Sited within the expansive space of the museum’s Great Hall, the mountain-like forms can be inhabited from the ground level or viewed from above from upper-floor balconies. An oculus located at the peak of the three domes draws the visitor’s eye up toward the soaring ceilings of Great Hall, while the spiraling pattern of the stacked tubes creates a perspective bending optical illusion.


© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

Inside, tubular instruments and chimes created by acoustic engineer John Tewksbury and percussionist Steve Bloom amplify sounds heard within the smaller chambers, resulting in a dynamic auditory experience.

“Within the chambers, visitors are invited to explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound,” explain Studio Gang. “The whole structure acts acoustically like a clearing in a forest—some sounds are reflected back while others pass through the tubes, creating an intimate space within the large field of the Great Hall.”


Courtesy of Studio Gang

Courtesy of Studio Gang

© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

The sensory journey continues into the visual; the outer surface of each surface is painted in a reflective silver, while the interiors feature a pop of pink inspired by the January’s Women’s March, which was the largest non-violent protest in U.S. history.

“Magenta was so present at the Women’s March, when you saw the hats,” Gang said at a press preview earlier this week. “You couldn’t help but be inspired by the color. We wanted to bring that out.”


© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

Courtesy of Studio Gang

Courtesy of Studio Gang

© Tim Schenck

© Tim Schenck

The installation will play host to a number of formal and informal events throughout the summer, including yoga classes, concerts, lectures and cocktail parties. Check out the full list of events on the National Building Museum website, here.

Hive will be on display through through September 4.

News via National Building Museum.

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