Using Recycled Water Meter Boxes for Water Soundscape Design: An Experiment with Inspiration from the Suikinkutsu

By Po Siu Hsu and Qing Lana Luo.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This case study piloted an experiment to design a water soundscape with waterfalls using the recycled water meter box, covers and other materials with inspiration from the Suikinkutsu, an ancient Japanese garden music device. The objectives of the experiment were to make the composition of design elements visually pleasing by following the Zen garden design principles of simplicity with primitive numbers and to create a water soundscape that is harmonious in design with visual and aural effects in a residential garden setting. The construction methods, the soundscape implications, the design principles, the visual effects, and the spatial composition of design elements were investigated. The sound waves were recorded and analyzed; their waveforms were compared among themselves and with sound waves from the traditional thirteen-stringed Koto “Harp” and the two-stringed violin. The sound perceptions, such as pitch, duration, loudness, timbre, sonic texture, and spatial location were also analyzed. Finally, the design elements were documented in a table format with primitive numbers for easy descriptive explanation and summation. This experiment demonstrated that displaced water meter boxes and covers, though ordinary looking could be recycled with artistic inspiration. As more urban development encroach the natural landscape, the essences of this experiment, to create a soundscape that allows people to immerse their imagination into it with open ears and relaxed mind become imperative. In addition, the spatial composition of the design elements and their relationship can be explained in a spatial structure and pattern with primitive numbers while achieving harmonious visual and aural perceptions. The soundscape widened the perceptions and provided another spectrum of experience in life; this experiment discovered that Mother Nature could create its own rhythmic music when the soundscape environment is available.

Keywords: Soundscape, Zen Garden, Design Principles, Visual Effects, Aural Architecture, Primitive Numbers

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp.19-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1004.195KB).

Prof. Po Siu Hsu

Emeritus Professor, Landscape Architecture Program, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA

Paul Hsu is Emeritus Professor of the Landscape Architecture Program at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA. Paul Hsu is interested in landscape architectural design; Geographic Information System; landscape architecture graphic delineation; Zen garden design; journal drawings; eco lodge resort development; sustainability; constructed wetland design; sustainable tourism; and aural architectural design.

Qing Lana Luo

Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA

Qing Lana Luo is an Assistant Professor and State Extension Specialist of Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University since 2015. Before joining the academic position, Qing has been in design leadership role in design firms in Boston, USA, and Beijing, China for seventeen years, including internationally renowned firm CRJA, EDSA, etc. She has broad practicing experience and has had projects in the US, Asia, and the Middle East. Qing’s work has been recognized with many international and national awards. Qing Luo’s areas of interests are urban landscapes, sustainable stormwater, technological innovation and materiality in site design. She graduated from Beijing Forestry University (BLA), and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MLA).