Building Turns Into Rube-Goldberg Machine When It Rains

Building Turns Into Rube-Goldberg Machine When It Rains

Court of the Elements in Dresden, Germany 'plays' falling water through a series of funnels and tubes attached to its facade.

Allie Walker
  • 8 august 2012

While rain and bad weather typically deters sight-seeing, visitors to the Kunsthof-Passage in Dresden, Germany have to go in the rain to enjoy the full experience. The Court of Elements, a private home on the street, evokes the element of water with its vibrant blue and green painted facade. Covered with an array of funnels and spouts, the house is visually arresting any time of the day and in any weather, but it’s when it rains that the house really comes alive.

Designed by architect Heike Bottcher in 1999 as part of a renovation project for the street, the house’s various ‘instruments’ are connected to the roof’s gutters. When it rains, water is directed through the tubes as if in an rube-goldberg machine to create a musical effect–rain pours down in graduated steps on one side of the house, while on the other side, rain is directed into a standing funnel, which in turn sprinkles the water into a waiting gutter like a fountain.

Court of the Elements is just one of the unique buildings on the Kunsthof-Passage- each home or shop on the street looks more like an art installation rather than architecture; the Court of The Mythical Creatures is covered with metallic mirrors to reflect sunlight, Farm Animals is covered with large murals of giraffes and monkeys, and the facade of the Court of Metamorphosis lights up at night with the help of embedded, hidden projectors.

The pipes aren’t outfitted with any sound-making sensors–the ‘music’ sounds decidedly more like falling rain, but the effect is still mesmerizing. For visitors who don’t want to stand in the rain to watch the building ‘play,’ fountains are turned on every half-hour for visitors. Watch a video of the musical house ‘play the rain’ below:



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