Aural Architecture Design Competition
– Result Announced!

05.09.2022, Wed

aural-architecture-result

©Jennifer Zhu, Bernadette Galingan

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“Aural Architecture – 2022” is an international design competition organized by archiol – artuminate. This competition mainly aimed to use auditory sense to develop abstract architectural space which exhibits an emotion of itself. This competition received a total of 92 entries from around the world and archiol – artuminate is proud to announce the final winners of this competition.

The jury members of the competition are as follows:

  • Nicole Cullinan


Scroll down to check out the winners.


Top 3

  1. Jennifer  Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)

  2. LiJiaxuan, TuYilan & LaiJiaqi (China)

  3. Tianjian  Li, Yifan Deng (United States)


Honorable Mentions

  • Manoj Jaini, Abhiram kurma & CM. Aditya (India)

  • Kanak  Kothawale (India)

  • Zindagi  Mavani (United States)

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First Prize winner:

The Cistern of Light

Design by: Jennifer  Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)


“Even a room which must be dark needs at least a crack of light to know how dark it is.” (Louis Kahn)


Shadows evoke a sense of quiet, uncertainty and mystery.


The quiet hum in the background of the piece and the soft and slow music creates a feeling of cold darkness. It is paired with the echo of water drops and metal clinking, creating feelings of hollowness and anxiousness. This emotion of uncertainty is then met with hope and awe midway, as the piano plays a more uplifting and dramatic melody. At that moment the imagery of seeing light came to mind. Light is the crude contrast of shadow. Light is often associated with hope, sight and clarity.


The music creates that feeling of clarity, emerging from the earlier mystery and cold uncertainty. The piece guided the intention of light and shadow as a means to express the duality of the emotions and dynamics of the piece within a space. The uncertainty and hollowness is depicted by a quiet darkness while the hopeful, uplifting feelings of clarity is depicted by the light.


Majority of the piece created emotions of anxiety and mystery, shadow is designed as the main element. The elements of light help emphasize and elucidate the shadows.


The Cistern of Light is a performance theatre that features different ways light enters the building and disrupts the shadows. One of the ways is the lobby space with slivers of light that is reminiscent of the slivers of uplifting melody that led up to the calming and peaceful sounds in the piece. The other is the great skylight over the performance space which reflects the awe of the light and almost joyous melody of the piece right before it goes back to the solemn and tense darkness represented by the backrooms

Water features are not only kept in the main performance space but incorporated into the lobby’s seating. Water is also treated as a valuable resource through the implementation of some sustainable net zero water strategies. This includes rainwater harvesting and filtration which is used as grey water and irrigation.


The performance space is located underground in a cistern. It was a way to incorporate both the intention of creating hollow spaces that reflects light and shadow and a space’s connection with water. Water is a consistent component of the piece and is reflected in the building through a consistent connection with water.


The materiality of the building also reflects the emotions felt from the piece. Stone and concrete were primarily used as they reflected the coldness and heaviness of the more solemn parts. Metal was used for detailing to not only add to the cold and heaviness but to reflect the more literal sounds that can be heard throughout the piece.


Each space designed, mirrors the duality of the human emotions in the piece; exploring the connection between individual elements such as water and the bigger theme of light and shadows.



The Cistern of Light Design by: Jennifer Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)

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The Cistern of Light Design by: Jennifer Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)

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The Cistern of Light Design by: Jennifer Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)

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The Cistern of Light Design by: Jennifer Zhu, Bernadette Galingan (Canada)

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Second Prize winner:


A Cave of Contradiction

Design by: LiJiaxuan, TuYilan & LaiJiaqi (China)


We have chosen a musical composition by Guilherme Bernardes.

Through the music we created an abstract and sensual space. This space is like a predicament, and the cycle of darkness makes it difficult to escape. The overall tone of this piece is dark and eerie, and the notes of CGE in the piece are constantly looped through rising and falling keys. The background sound of the song has rapid strings and water drops, and if you listen carefully, you can find echoes. The whole piece can be divided into two parts, the middle is a rapid string as a turning point. The structure and tune of the second half are basically the same as the first half, and the second half seems to be an echo of the previous music.

The music reminds us of the predicament of an empty, dark cycle that is hard to get out of. We designed a building with the same effect inside and outside, using the materials of mega-architecture and concrete to describe the sensory space that the music wants to express. We use CGE as the base component. Through the interspersed with huge components, create a depressing atmosphere in the music. The components are covered with water, and through the movement of people or the blowing of the wind, the water falls from the components to create the sound of water droplets in the background sound. The height of the components is used to deal with the sound of water droplets, and the repetition of transitions and compositions is used to reflect similar syllables in the music. In the center of the whole huge system, you can see the light entering the building. You seem to see an exit from the predicament. But as you walk towards the light, you will find that the surrounding environment is getting darker and darker, and the building starts to reappear. Once again you are caught up in contradictions and repetitions.

A Cave of Contradiction Design by: LiJiaxuan, TuYilan & LaiJiaqi (China)

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A Cave of Contradiction Design by: LiJiaxuan, TuYilan & LaiJiaqi (China)

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A Cave of Contradiction Design by: LiJiaxuan, TuYilan & LaiJiaqi (China)

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Third Prize winner:

The Sentients Palace

Design by: Tianjian  Li, Yifan Deng (United States)


The Sentients Palace is built based on the “the introvert”, a magnificent compose from Michael Kobrin. This piece of music is fragile and powerful at the same time.To our understanding, the piece is vividly depicting the story of how the introvert ones end up in an unfamiliar environment and fight to survive the situation in a miraculous manner.


The music starts with gentle piano strikeswhich slowly bring the audienceto anonchalantatmosphere. The recurring melody with variation at each subsection heralds the dramatic turn ahead. Then the crescendo drum slowly kick in, brings along insatiability and chaos. In the next phase, with the introduction of Cello and violin, the emotion was pushed to the summit. Finally, everything suddenly comes to an end, only a few pianos notes are left echoing with the peaceful beginning.


We divided the music into 5 major chapters according to the different character of each: Suspecting, Encountering, Struggling, Fighting and Elevating.


Based on our understanding to the emotions, we built the Sentients Palace which spatialize the story that the music is trying to convey.The pitch, texture, duration and reverberation for each element in the compose is translated to architectural elements that scattered around the palace as ceilings, walls and columns that defines the character of each episode. In similar manner with the music, starting with smaller scale, the recurring spiral stairs with high walls is forcing the visitor to go a certain route. With the suspicion in mind, visitor will next come to the wavy open plaza which has a more soothing quality. However, the deformed columns, which visualize the drum from the music piece, hint the emotion change in the next chapter. The repeating, zigging alley with only slits of light introduced is creating tension in the nerves. Through the door, visitor will enter the amphitheater where one feels the pressure of suddenly be presented and acting in front of the crowd. Eventually, climbing up the stairs escaping from the mass audience, there comesthe grand stair with elegant curved forms and symmetrical open space. Running up the stairs trying to get away from all these madness, one finally arrives to the exit. Tranquility reclaimed and the journey comes to an end.


We believe that every human being has an introvert self deep in the subconscious. Thus, the palace is designed for all sentient beings that is curious about their sentimental self. This is a palace for meditation, healing, and for exploring the meaning of existence.Every visitor is welcomed to take this immersive journey, develop themselves into characters and become part of the story.


The Sentients Palace Design by: Tianjian Li, Yifan Deng (United States)

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The Sentients Palace Design by: Tianjian Li, Yifan Deng (United States)

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The Sentients Palace Design by: Tianjian Li, Yifan Deng (United States)

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The Sentients Palace Design by: Tianjian Li, Yifan Deng (United States)

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Honorable Mentions


The Sanctum

Design by: Manoj Jaini, Abhiram kurma & CM. Aditya (India)


Memento Mori

Design by: Kanak  Kothawale (India)


Ouroboros Pavilion

Design by: Zindagi  Mavani (United States)



The Sanctum Design by: Manoj Jaini, Abhiram kurma & CM. Aditya (India)

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The Sanctum Design by: Manoj Jaini, Abhiram kurma & CM. Aditya (India)

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Ouroboros Pavilion Design by: Zindagi Mavani (United States)

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The Sanctum Design by: Manoj Jaini, Abhiram kurma & CM. Aditya (India)

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