Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO

Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO

Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Exterior Photography

Text description provided by the architects. Fields with seasonal crop rotation present a changing landscape, while the irrigation canal remains a constant, straight line. I walked along a narrow path atop the canal, leading into the fields. At the end of the path, a black roof lay nestled against the ground. Amidst the colorful fields, the black object stood apart, an element of detachment. I paused in its shadow, resting between terraces. The silent sculpture vanished, its roof tethered lightly to the earth like a kite, subtly reflecting the field’s glow. The space floated around a hidden core, where the echo of dripping water could be heard. The sound vibrated invisibly underground, rising briefly before merging into nature, allowing the space to expand further. Embedded in the cement were old objects, resembling relics that evoked memories of rural life. The pool’s surface rippled gently, with an old water jar overturned inside. I observed the flowing water deep within the rice fields, echoing the unseen Qujiang River, hidden behind the dike. “Listening-to-the-rain Stop” is situated in the fields along the Qujiang River in Zhejiang. The lightweight structure houses an ancient sound device known as “Dripping into buried jar”, which integrates the soundscape of the countryside. This installation explores the fusion of rural everyday life with artistic spirituality through the sonorous landscape of the fields.

Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 3 of 30
Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 28 of 30

The unique form of the roof of “Listening-to-the-rain Stop” serves as the structural foundation. The interplay between lightness and heaviness, and between horizontality and verticality, is complementary. The overall roof structure is composed of cantilevered steel ribs with repeated L-shaped cross-sections that encircle the perimeter. These ribs are clamped by 6mm thick steel plates from the inside, forming a cohesive whole. Four cruciform steel columns provide the core mechanical support, while the vertical steel ribs extend horizontally from the base, creating counter ribs for the roof. The combination of steel ribs and roof panels enhances spatial rigidity, allowing the horizontally extended roof to be supported by slender 5cm square columns at the four corners. The contrast between refined and rough materials, as well as the prefabrication and handcrafting of construction, creates a dramatic interplay. The black semi-mirrored structural steel plates form a reflective canopy, mirroring the colors of the fields. The spaces between the roof’s counter ribs are filled with dark aluminum foam panels, which are lightweight, insulating, and soundproof, evoking the rustic image of a thatched roof with contemporary industrial materials. The steel structure is prefabricated in a factory, transported to the site in sections, and assembled there, ensuring precision and construction efficiency. Other elements are built using traditional handcrafted methods. Prefabricated concrete strips, typically used for grape trellises, are laid to create platform walkways. The curved surfaces of the buried jar base and the pool are shaped on-site by the designer, who guides local craftsmen in their construction. The “Dripping into buried jar” device is seamlessly integrated into the overall drainage system of the structure. The slightly inward-sloping roof allows rainwater to seep through the holes in the aluminum foam panels, collecting in four roof ridge gutters. The water then flows down the cruciform columns to the curved surface of the concrete base, where it is directed into three buried old water jars before being drained out. During dry seasons, water drawn from nearby wells drips slowly through four suspended transparent acrylic tubes, passing through the buried jar device before flowing into the pool and eventually irrigating the fields.

Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 14 of 30
Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 17 of 30
Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 25 of 30
Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 7 of 30

The three old water jars, each with a distinct shape, were traditionally used for water storage in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions. After extensive sound testing, each jar was identified for its unique resonant frequency, optimizing their sound characteristics. The pebbles used to bury the jars and the fishing lines securing the acrylic water columns were all collected from the banks of the Qujiang River. The “trumpets” placed on each jar to amplify the sound were repurposed pressure caps sourced from a local hardware store. The design and construction of “Listening-to-the-rain Stop” represent a unique experience where the assembly of objects ultimately creates a kind of chemical reaction. It is hoped that it will gradually become an anchored space along the fields of Qujiang Village, presenting the value of rural land through perceptual experiences. As described in a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.”

Listening-to-the-rain Stop / SWOOP STUDIO - Image 2 of 30

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *