Fig: 1 - The gramophone was popularised around the 1940s, which played record disks engraved with grooves of music.
The gramophone is an antique record player that was invented by the works of Thomas Edison. It all started when he found a way to use a phonograph to map musical vibrations onto a surface. The intention of showing people how music worked through a tangible medium was achieved and music was subsequently stored on a disc.
The commercialisation of this technology led to the production of vinyl records, which essentially defined the music period of the 20th century. This technology also laid the seed for the sound production marvels we have today. Modern machines provide a better quality of audio and ease of use, all of which are supplied in a compact device.
With this, the vinyl records went out of fashion as they lagged in capacity, efficiency, and speed. But even with its own set of imperfections, the tone of each record was unique. The physical act of putting the record in the player and the song echoing through the space is a classic experience, reinvigorating the vibe of the vinyl era, globally.
How can the vinyl culture be revived to be relevant in the present times?
Fig: 2 - With the comeback trend, the record remained as is, but the gramophone device was changed and modernised.
BACK IN TREND
Decades ago, the record culture was abandoned with no hopes for its survival amidst the world of iPods, smartphones, and other MP3 players in everyone's hand. But just like life comes full circle, vinyl records have existed for all this time and are now ready to make a comeback. When the personal music player trend started to take over, the bulk manufacturing of records and gramophones was stopped.
Now, after almost 30 years, these records are being brought back into the market with their production resumed due to the rising demand for this format. Despite its drawbacks, the essence of the record player is still valued. A record provides the purest version of a recording possible, with reverberations that give a superior quality effect.
The exclusive ownership of a record with its playful cover is a strong selling point among the younger generation. With this revival, the experience of buying a record in physical stores is also being appreciated. These spaces of exchange give tangibility to the entire experience of vinyl music, and so, the spatial design of such an outlet must be as authentic as the records itself.
Fig: 3 - Record stores were popular centres for the public, designed with a moody aesthetic created with lighting and record covers.
The production of vinyl records has not changed much over time, with up-gradation done only to the equipment used to manufacture them. The process has become faster and simpler, enabling the medium to reach wider audiences.
Challenge - Design a music centre with storage and experience facilities of vinyl records.
The centre will be a one-stop-shop for everything related to record music. The commercial end would be to sell the records collection. It will also have an experienced wing that is dedicated to letting people enjoy listening to vinyl music in an enclosed space. Record stock and genres will guide the layout of the music centre.
Since the centre is being built for the audiences of today, relevance can be established by prioritising privacy for record experiences, by creating multiple sound-proof booths for individual or group capacity. The centre must be able to offer a superior quality sound experience. The aim of the challenge is to make a holistic experience of record music accessible, to both amateurs and vinyl enthusiasts.
Layout - the spatial configuration of the centre must be done to orient the specific needs of the visitors who come there for buying, leisure, or recreation purposes.
Access - the design of the centre must be approachable with access to all.
Material + Technology - the palette employed must ensure that the design has good sound responsiveness, in terms of insulation, absorption, and amplification, as and when needed.
Engage - the centre must attract visitors and create an engaging environment for them with the records, fellow visitors, and knowledgeable staff.
Ambience - the antique nature of the product must be balanced with the contemporary space ideals for convenience.
Vinyl made a comeback in 2006 in the United States. Its sale has grown every year since then upto 27.5 million vinyl records sold in the year of 2020. The comeback of this trend has been going strong even in the digital age.
The site is located in New Orleans, USA. The city is known for its popular musical origin, architecture, and festivals. It is the French quarter, to which its vibrant mix of culture and vibe can be attributed. Jazz music has dominated the city music landscape.
Located in the heart of the city, the site is surrounded by residential clusters and other commercial spaces but is still a quaint location for a record centre. The site offers a view of the St. John Bayou.
Site area - 3403 sqm
FAR - 1.0
Ground coverage - 40%
Height restrictions - 9m
Coordinates - 30°00'56.8"N 90°05'10.1"W
The facility is supposed to accommodate a record store to purchase records and players, a visitors lounge to experience the old-time music, and some communal spaces. Any creative addition to the programme may be done within the given constraints.