Vex is a unique architecture/sound collaboration. It is an in situ concrete house which arose out of the collaboration between musician Robin Rimbaud (known as ‘Scanner’) and architects Chance de Silva.
Music and architecture both take as their starting point Erik Satie’s ‘Vexations’ – a looping, repetitive piano work that lasts around 18 hours in continuous performance.
As stated by the architects (to their knowledge), it is the first architecture/sound collaboration of this type since Le Corbusier/Xenakis/Varèse’s Philips Pavilion of 1958. (In that it was envisaged as an integrated design collaboration, with the music and architecture symbiotic and made in parallel, rather than the sound added later as an installation in an existing building).
Creating the continuously changing, fluted exterior concrete required formidable craftsmanship in making the boat-like formwork.
Internally, exposed concrete ceilings, elements of wall and a single elliptical column create a warm, cavelike feel – although the building is paradoxically very light with window positions responding to Satie’s musical score as well as contextual and sunlight parameters.
A characteristic feature is the curved galvanised ‘Flow Forge’ grillage which defines spaces, provides guarding to staircases and acts as both dividers and screens.
Reused profiled galvanised sheet from the exterior formwork is used as an internal finish to the walls in the ground floor studio.
A galvanised ‘ships’ ladder’ rises to the rooftop terrace where a circular larch fence enclosure is fixed on both sides of galvanised steel structural posts with curved flat horizontals.
Both inside and outside there is a variety of galvanised elements that complement the industrial character of Vex whilst adjusting comfortably to the building’s prolific use of curves. The galvanised finishes perfectly complement the use of raw concrete and untreated timber.
Images © Hélène Binet Photographer