During the London Design Festival 2012, a new sound experience comes to Trafalgar Square, one of London's busiest tourist attractions. Amid the cacophony of the crowds, passing buses and the occasional bagpipe player, the BE OPEN Sound Portal is a black rubberised structure that offers those who enter a pure acoustic experience, with specially commissioned pieces by international sound artists.
Designed by Arup, the round black structure is entered via a short, curving passageway. On our visit, the cool white interior, with walls of mesh fabric and a generous skylight, was warmed by the sound of cymbals, recorded with a soundfield microphone by artist Jo Thomas for a piece titled “Amber.”
The installation was co-produced by the London Design Festival and the BE OPEN Foundation, a think tank that aims to promote global creativity and innovation, headed up by Russian businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Elena Baturina.
Other sound artists and composers commissioned by Sound and Music to produce pieces for the BE OPEN Sound Portal include Norwegian artist Jana Winderen, whose work plays with the “audio topography” of oceans and ice crevasses, and Squarepusher, the pseudonym of UK-based drum and bass musician Tom Jenkinson.
Renderings of BE OPEN Sound Portal at Trafalgar Square courtesy of Arup. All other photos by Charlene Lam for Inhabitat.