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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Achim Kukulies
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel

Three Model Spaces

Ralf Brög

Ralf Brög designed the three new entrances to the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions – as an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible; they can be used in coming years to present works by as broad an array as possible of composers and sound artists. For the opening, contributions by author and director Kevin Rittberger (Theater), composer Stefan Schneider (Laboratory) and musician Kurt Dahlke and artist Jörn Stoya (Auditorium) were to be heard.
The “Laboratory” focuses on the experimental use of tones. Sound sculptures hang in space while opposite the “Interference Atlas” visualizes optical phenomena. In the “Theater” a theater curtain can be discerned on the ceramic surface. Messages and other sound material is audible. Viewers find themselves asking where they stand: Are they a part of the play or are they the audience? The “Auditorium” is equipped with 48 loudspeakers that can be individually controlled. The 3D wall elements enable the spread of sound to be modulated, thereby optimizing the acoustic properties of the room. This equipment facilitates a unique compositional approach and an equally unique listening experience.
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Ralf Brög – Three Model Rooms

Text by Anja Schürmann
»Music has notes, scales and keys: it can construct.« (Walter Benjamin)*

»Musica amat silentium,« wrote Johann Adam Hiller in 1767, welcoming the new development whereby, during a concert, the public no longer made a noise, talked, played billiards or cards, but instead sat motionless and moreover, in silence. Out of this silence the music emerged, it was the prerequisite and dialectical twin of sound. But silence is never totally silent. Absolute silence has to be produced by artificial means, and this is only possible in so-called acoustically dead spaces. Silence – paradoxical as it may sound – also forms the basis of the acoustic installations created by Ralf Brög, together with musicians Stefan Schneider, Kurt Dahlke, Jörn Stoya and theater director and author Kevin Rittberger.
Noises can indeed be heard in the three new entrance halls and corridors at Heinrich-Heine-Allee, but this is sound rather than noise, sound that serves as an antidote to the cacophonous restlessness of the street. Brög’s assigns the names Auditorium, Theater and Laboratory to the three model rooms in his design: spaces in which he explores how resonance, in both graphical form and acoustically as sound, functions as music.
The experimental nature of Brög’s concept is particularly evident in the Laboratory, where two sound-emitting objects hang in the escalator space, responding to an »interference atlas« in the corridor. This atlas consists of 45 printed ceramic tiles arranged in three rows, which together depict – in varying copper groove patterns, as on a record – an imaginary musical typology. The wave-like nature of sound is revealed in the so-called elemental groove, depicted only once, which forms the basis for all subsequent tiles, on which Brög stretches, squeezes, distorts and twists the grooves to create interference patterns. The optical phenomenon of interference – similar to light refraction in a rainbow – occurs when light waves overlap, causing lines to transmute into grids that scatter light and take on a life of their own as Moiré patterns.
This phenomenon can also be observed in the two sound objects; responding to the movement of the escalator, the perforated metal in the seven elements produces a similar effect. Purple and lime green polyhedral shapes hang from the ceilings: shapes which Brög has often employed and here – alluding to Albrecht Dürer’s famous etching – they are entitled Melancholy Box. These objects – derived from the golden section – emit sounds, and as they are speakers, each one is controlled separately.
Stefan Schneider’s composition Stairs combines notes taken from the scale of E major, all of which were recorded with a vibraphone, then edited as loops of varying length so that random, new combinations of notes are always possible. The timbre of this percussion instrument – often used to herald an announcement or as a school gong – reminds one of ringing bells. However, by limiting the notes of the scale and through combining them randomly, one never has the feeling that an announcement is imminent or that the break might be at an end; the individual segments produce balanced and gentle sounds that elucidate Schneider’s idea of generating a complex structure of acoustic possibilities from the limited scope of a scale.
The Theater, already signaled from afar by a deep red ceramic curtain, is an area of the station where Brög and Kevin Rittberger worked together. Here where an escalator transports passengers continually at the same speed, a radio play is about to go on air, for which Rittberger has drawn on the Orpheus myth: it is the story of the singer Orpheus, whose attempt to rescue his beloved from the underworld fails when on leaving, contrary to the instructions of the gods, he turns around to look at her. This story is in part adapted from the opera L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi and in part from Rittberger’s own play, Candide. Acting in Concert is subtly arranged on three multi-channel speakers, integrated into the curtain. This spatial simulation using different voices breaks up this short escalator ride, like the myth itself, into a performance with several acts. Passers-by find it impossible to locate the source of the voices and sound fragments and begin to wonder whether they are standing here in front of the stage, or already on it. For a brief moment the ceramic curtains form an ephemeral space, a place where one begins to doubt that what he or she perceives is entirely illusory. Despite knowing we must not do so, we still turn around.
The title of the last model room, Auditorium, already denotes its function: together with musicians Pyrolator and Jörn Stoya, Brög has created a lecture hall as a long corridor connecting Königsallee with the subway tunnel. The acoustics are optimized using white enamel tiles, with surfaces that encourage sound waves to bounce off the positive and negative forms at multiple angles. Starting with a square pyramid, the shape is then manipulated in several different ways: as a positive or negative form, a single element or set of four, and shapes are also rotated. The light reflecting off the pure white enameled surfaces and the rotated elements create a subtle, almost crystalline effect in the Auditorium and – even though the tiles might be the functional precursors of acoustic panels in a sound studio – they bring to mind futuristic glacier structures.
Hidden behind the tiles are 48 individually controlled loudspeakers, onto which Dahlke and Stoya have programmed the 3D audio installation Like Birds On The Wire. The speakers are arranged relatively close together so that one experiences the sound as a pleasant sensation. The noise is non-directional, neither above nor below, but is experienced through one’s entire body and this sensation lingers on, on the way to or from the train. It is as if one were to pass by an orchestra where, just momentarily, each individual instrument can be made out – this is how Brög describes the acoustic impression. But here it is not an orchestra we are listening to, but birdsong accompanying the listener like the jingling of tinkling ornaments. Dahlke and Stoya recorded the birdsongs of many domestic species and then processed them electronically. The spatial sound differentiation was achieved using 3D simulation software and a specially programmed random number generator. In addition, sensors can detect the background noise in the station and alter the volume so that the installation is quieter when fewer people are around. Located in the middle of the city one is surprised to be confronted by this virtual reminder of nature, which can also be varied with different species of birds, depending on the time of day or the season.
Brög’s acoustic design for the station presents the city with an initial proposal of how it might be practically implemented. His design creates outstanding sound spaces that need to remain adaptable. It is conceivable that concert broadcasts might follow, or a thematic series involving individual bands, sound artists or composers. The unifying element of the model rooms is the notion that sound is a noise that arises out of collective silence. In spite of coming from so many loudspeakers, it is always individualized and therefore can be experienced subjectively.

* Paul Valéry in der École Normale: Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, IV. I, Frankfurt a. Main 1991, p. 480.
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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel

Process and Construction

Purpose-built sound systems have been installed in all three conceptually and technically unique sound corridors – the “Auditorium”, “Theater” and “Laboratory”.
In “Auditorium”, the individual sound models move freely through space and time using a 48-channel sound installation and spatial sound to create the illusion of space. The walls are made of embossed plastic enamel elements that optimize the acoustic properties of the room by diversifying the angle of refraction. The first sound piece consists of 127 birdsongs that have been recorded and digitally processed.
In “Theater”, expansive vocal reproductions are played back through digitally controllable speaker columns. The wall covering, reminiscent of a strongly scaled curtain, was created with a ceramic screen printing process.
The “Laboratory” is outfitted with panels manufactured with a metallic ceramic print (eight themes plus an original proto-theme) and two sculptural sound objects made of powder-coated perforated sheet metal. The object, equipped with custom-made horn speakers, function as a high quality 7-channel speaker system.
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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stationen, Heinrich Heine Allee, Process and Construction, Prozess und Baukunst, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Rolltreppeninstallation, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stationen, Heinrich Heine Allee, Process and Construction, Prozess und Baukunst, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Baustelle, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stationen, Heinrich Heine Allee, Process and Construction, Prozess und Baukunst, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Rolltreppen, Photo Joerg Hempel

Spatial Concept

At Heinrich Heine Allee station the Wehrhahn Line connects with the existing subway network. On its west end, the new Heinrich Heine Allee subway station connects with two already existing but separate tunnels, which were constructed about 35 years ago for the existing station, “Heinrich-Heine-Allee Oben,” which crosses the new station at the concourse level. At the east of the new station the separated tracks are re-connected. The integration of the new subway station into the existing one and the “undermining” of the heritage Kaufhof building required special structural and typological solutions: The two separate tracks were connected using a wide central platform.
From the west exit of the station platform, passengers can transfer to the existing railway station via two routes – either by stairs or an escalator in the original concourse. The floor had to be slightly ramped to compensate for the height difference between this connecting building and the western end of the new central platform.
The A level that runs above the original station (a concourse level shopping mall) is connected by three escalators that lead directly to the central platform. At the east end of the central platform (Heinrich-Heine-Unten) an access route connects the station to the Königsallee exits. Here, three escalators lead directly to the long parallel concourse. At the head of this level are two stairways opposite each other leading to Königsallee. The north access consists of a single stairway, and the south access has one stairway plus two escalators.
The end of the concourse is accentuated by a naturally lit area under a glass dome. This area contains an exhibition space where objects unearthed during the construction phase – such as pieces of the ancient city wall – are displayed.
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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Heinrich Heine Allee, Ralf Broeg, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Achim Kukulies