We analysed the way this space is used, looking at how its configuration generates different uses that potentiate new meanings, and how that impacts the way we perceive and experience the space.  

Architecture Game

How is architecture implicated in the rules of play?

Play squash

In squash, the players are side-by-side, opposed to a wall. The walls mediate the game. The game depends on the architectural elements and how the players position themselves in the room: it plays with the architecture. 

We developed this idea to incorporate other elements, subverting existing architectural relations and expanding the possibilities of the game. 



We enhanced the sonic dimension of the interaction between players through the use of remote spaces, in which the players have no visual connection between each other. 


The players transcend the walls by listening to each other. The game ends up being more about finding rhythmic synchronicity, resonance, and collaboration than losing control of the ball — or competition. 

In most standard ball games, players are opposed, positioned face-to-face. They are opponents. 


An analytical model of a squash court, used in a video in part 1.

Play music

The conventional use of the building was altered for the duration of the performance. A squash court became a musical venue, in a subversive gesture that echoes Bernard Tschumi’s theories of architectural disjunction: disjunction between buildings and their use, between spaces and events. In a situation where spaces are ‘misused’, or combined with unlikely events, ‘all hierarchical relationships between form and function cease to exist’. [3]



A whole set of new meanings emerged from the research and performance process, and we started to revise our relationship with this site.


Music was used to transform this everyday sports facility into an extended musical performance venue. It became a new place where different types of social strategy contribute to the reframing of its history and its sense of identity. 

The sound of squash playing is an impact sound, a short impulse. Squash courts are necessarily stripped of sound-absorbent materials, not for acoustic purposes, but to serve their main function: playing squash. This makes the space very reverberant, and the impact sound of the ball propagates and expands. The architectural properties of the building then transform the impact-like sound into a more continuous, linear one. (This 'sonic line' will also propagate itself throughout the piece).

The choice of brass instruments for this work is also due to their sound qualities. Brass instruments produce a very directional sound, which allows for better play with the space. They can make a continuous sound that contrasts with the impact (percussive) sound of the squash ball. They also allow players to move easily through the space.

But brass instruments, or brass or wind bands more generally, inevitably add further layers of meaning to PLAY. They have carried out different functions throughout history that associate them with ideas of confrontation: hunting, the military and war, imperialism and colonialism, parades and competitions, etc. Particularly in the United Kingdom, wind bands were also once identified with the working classes: 

"[A]t the beginning of the nineteenth century, many factories sought to foster an interest in wind bands among workers in an effort to provide them with a leisure-time activity. This was a sagacious and diplomatic maneuver on the part of the industrial management, as it served to divert the workers' minds from the frequently appalling conditions under which they labored." [4]

How much this proposal is a divert maneuver, a proposal to ‘play to forget’, is debatable, as brass bands brought about significant cultural and social consequences: 

"The growth of brass bands in Victorian Britain (...) represents an important manifestation of change in popular music culture (...). It provides a prime example of the fusion of commercial and Philharmonic interests and attitudes; of art music and vernacular music practices; of technology and ‘art’; and as one of the dominant and emergent ideologies.(...) One of the achievements of the brass band movement is that it created what was probably the first mass engagement of working-class people in instrumental art music, not just in Britain, but possibly anywhere." [5]

Play a performance

In Northern Ireland, brass band culture is very strong on both sides of the conflicts, and many efforts have been made to join the communities through music-making. PLAY can be seen to underscore another ambivalent situation: bands can both mark the imposition of a sectarian identity and foster a renewed sense of community. 


The combination of these elements — a squash game and musical game — constitutes a single event, one performance. By understanding the relationship between these elements and the site where they happen, another layer is added to the game. 

Thinking in terms of sound allowed a different understanding and use of the space, where the walls, as barriers, can be transcended. Following this line of thought, the walls are then traversed further, mediating other dimensions of the game: they can be obstacles or separations, but also links, windows to different spatial relations, or even temporal relations (through video projections). 


Music is played as a game and game as music. The performance articulates these ambivalent actions with the architectural configuration of the building. It is through the process of ‘playing’ architecture that PLAY begins a site-specific journey. 


Play architecture

Tschumi’s notion of architecture as event redefines it as being both the building and the action that takes place within it: ‘[A]rchitecture — its social relevance and form invention — cannot be dissociated from the events that "happen" in it’. [6] Thus architecture happens, it becomes temporal, ‘it ceases to be a backdrop for actions, becoming the action itself’. [7] It is constantly changing and being created by the things that happen in it, the things we perceive in it. 

Sound happens in time and is never fixed: it keeps changing, it keeps happening, and so it is constantly affecting architecture, the way we perceive it, the way it affects us, and the way it continues to happen.