Frozen Music

About the design of sound and space

16 December 2022 till 28 May 2023

Music and architecture speak the same language of rhythm, contrast, proportion, dynamics and harmony. The composer and the master builder have inspired each other for centuries. From mimicking the sounds of nature to fascination with the human voice, even the modern electrical environment of the 21st century is a source of inspiration for modern sound artists. Music also has its own architecture: from the design of instruments to the aesthetic of the notation itself. Human beings are tuning forks that intuitively sense harmony - in music, but also in architecture. In the exhibition Frozen Music, the design of space and sound is explored with interactive installations, art, film and music, architectural drawings and models.

Music was often written to activate buildings for specific purposes, such as religious worship. Thus, the two disciplines moved in tandem for many years, with the composer and architect mutually influencing each other. Pérotin, composer at Notre Dame in Paris, even based his music notation on the shapes of Gothic architecture: you play music by reading a construction drawing.

As music progressed from something played in the background to performing art, special concert halls were designed with precise acoustic environments. Acoustics became a design discipline for optimising the listening experience. Theatre conventions conform to this enhancement: the auditorium goes dark, and the audience falls silent. Music should be experienced without distractions.

Impression Frozen Music (photography Moniek Wegdam)

The music of the city
How different it is in daily life, where sound is unavoidable and not held in high regard. Our densely populated cities have become sound boxes due to the materials of contemporary architecture and increased traffic. Sound is therefore no longer a peripheral concern in urban design but must be actively designed. But how do you design silence, and how do you design sound?

From the closing of a car door to the sound of its engine, and from the rhythm of a shopping cart rolling over a supermarket’s tile floors to the meaningless background music in elevators and parking garages, a surprising amount of sound has been composed and designed. The buildings we inhabit and the streets we walk even make music. Wood sounds different to brick, which sounds different to glass, which sounds different to concrete. Walk through the city and listen to all the sounds as if they were one composition. This is the music of the city.

Collaborations full of music and architecture
In a varied and interactive public programme, the relationship between people, the environment and music is further emphasized. In collaboration with Conservatorium Maastricht, compositions and a children's performance are being written alongside the exhibition, to be performed during and around the annual Museumnacht Maastricht. Every month, Bureau Europa also invites you to attend our music evenings with Muziekgieterij: director Wim Smeets and journalist Ludo Diels take out their record collections and show you how music is often inextricably linked to a social and built context.

For the exhibition, Bureau Europa loans from the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, which is managed by Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. For the first time in four years, drawings by Theo van Doesburg are being presented again after the large-scale conservation and restoration project Architectuur Dichterbij (2019-24). By showcasing special collection items in new contexts, such as our exhibition, new stories emerge. The rich collection will be further explained with a lecture.

Opening Frozen Music (photography Moniek Wegdam)

Two-day symposium
On 15 and 16 December 2022 sound artist Paul Devens, Bureau Europa, the Jan van Eyck Academy, Conservatorium Maastricht and the Maastricht Institute of Arts organise the two-day, free-to-attend symposium The Derailment of the Usual at the Jan Van Eyck Academy, with renowned speakers such as Raviv Ganchrow, Linnea Semmerling, Peter Kiefer, Caroline Claus, Niamh McDonnell, Jacob Kirkegaard and Luca Soudant will be present. Besides the speakers, there will also be a performance by Kacper Ziemianin. At Bureau Europa there will be performances by Glice and students of Conservatorium Maastricht and the Fine Arts programme of the Maastricht Institute of Arts on 16 December. You can register to attend for free via, stating 'Symposium'.

Curator tours
Interested in a guided tour? Curator Remco Beckers takes you along on:

  • Saturday 28 January, 2pm (Dutch) and 3.30 pm (English)
  • Saturday 18 March, 2pm (Dutch) and 3.30 pm (English)
  • Saturday 27 May, 2pm (Dutch) and 3.30 pm (English)

The guided tour will only take place with a minimum of 5 registrations. Register via

Don't see your preferred date? Inquire after the possibilities via the same e-mail address.


Curator Remco Beckers | Supervision Floor van Spaendonck | Advice Paul Devens | Graphic design Pierre Geurts, NNstudio | Spatial Design Daniël de Jong | Production Ilona van den Brekel | Film Sam Nemeth | Texts Remco Beckers| Translation JLC Coburn | PR Myrthe Leenders | Construction Fran Hoebergen, Charlotte Koenen, Bo Oudendijk, Emanuel Riksen, Carmen Vollebergh

With works and contributions by Bartlebooth (Antonio Giráldez López & Pablo Ibáñez Ferrera, with Alberto de Miguel, horror.vacui & Aurora Saseta) | Coussée Goris Huyge architecten | Herzog & De Meuron | Het Nieuwe Instituut | Joep Hinssen | Leopold Inkapööl | Arata Isozaki & Associates | Mikhail Karikis | Jacob Kirkegaard | Otomax, i.s.m. Michiel Ubels | Sóley Sigurjónsdóttir | Sarah van Sonsbeeck | Strijbos & Van Rijswijk, i.s.m. Pierluigi Pompeï | Christy Westhovens

Special thanks to Joris Bedaux | Hetty Berens | Elza van den Berg | Karin Bijsterveld | Eline de Graaf | Naoko Hatta | Dionne Hendriks | Fred Humblé | Intro in Situ | Eline Kersten | Lisa Kinoo | Vincenzo Lombardo | Donald Mak | Alfred Marks | Reinier van der Meer | Joes Minis | Behrang Mousavi | Muziekgieterij | Agnes Paulissen | Erwin Pellemans | Peutz Groep | Ivo Rosbeek | Teske van Royen | Johannes Schwartz | Wim Smeets | Kees Tazelaar | Remy Wenmaekers

Bureau Europa is generously supported by Gemeente Maastricht | Provincie Limburg | Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie

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