The BE OPEN Sound Portal, which will be set-up in Trafalgar Square next week as part of the tenth anniversary of the London Design Festival, promises to be far more than a simple addition to the historic London destination.
Acoustic engineers Arup have designed a bizarre looking soundproof chamber, which will be home to finely-tuned audio technologies aimed at delivering pure acoustic experiences to visitors. The effect will essentially allow those in the portal to escape the chaos and noise that is London without actually leaving one of the city’s most iconic locales.
In designing the portal, Arup has drawn on pioneering ambisonic technology that changes the way people experience sound in large public spaces.
Ambisonics is a series of recording and replay techniques using multichannel mixing technology. It is isotropic, meaning that sounds arriving from all directions are received equally. In addition, the speakers can be used to localise a sound in any direction. With better, more intense localisation, listeners in the chamber will feel cocooned by the music and protected from any external noises.
Every day, the BE OPEN Sound Portal will host one of five leading musicians and sound artists, each of whom has been specially commissioned to create a unique soundscape, from the dramatic sounds of the natural world such as glaciers breaking up, to exquisitely detailed electronic music.
The 2012 London Design Festival sound portal installation is part of a broader project by BE OPEN, a global think tank, which was set up to foster creativity and innovation to explore the five traditional senses – sight, smell, taste, touch and sound – and serve as a starting point for research into the next realm, that of the sixth sense, or intuition.
BE OPEN founder Elena Baturina noted the project entails bringing together leading acoustic experts who will bring about the next stages in acoustic development.
“We will effectively be setting up an ambitious mobile laboratory for exploring the boundaries of what can be achieved with sound technology – an active demonstration of design’s transformational abilities – and holding talks and discussions to put these ideas forward,” she says. “We engage with people across all platforms – the arts, science, education and the media – as we believe that the most innovative discoveries are made where these disciplines meet.”
London has been chosen to host sound, while other key design cities will become centres for research into the other senses, with the project expected to be completed at the London Design Festival 2013.