Wat Tyler Country Park, Basildon
2.5 x 2.5 m
As part of an ongoing regeneration programme at Wat Tyler Country Park in Basildon Essex, Troika was commissioned by the Council to create a sculpture that would engage the surrounding community, particularly the children.
Wanting to create something playful and physically engaging rather than purely ornamental we decided to design two giant sonic marshmallows, their outlandish aesthetic making them seem to have landed there from outer space.
The 'Sonic Marshmallow' create a stunning acoustic experience: using only their shape, the sculptures focus sound allowing people standing in front to hear each other's whispers across the 60 metres of space and pond that separates the sculptures. By focusing sound from their surroundings and reflecting them across the pond in a precise beam, the sculptures work simultaneously as ears and mouths using their concave shapes to allow users to eavesdrop on the people in the nearby car park, and the animals in the woodland, thanks to t hose 2.5m ears.
Inspired by Basildon’s coastal location and the historic uses of sonic warnings systems, we were inspired by the early sound mirrors built between the two wars as early attempts of detecting incoming enemy planes approaching. Famous examples of these mirrors lie off the Kent coast, near Dungeness.
As acoustic reflectors, the sonic marshmallows inscribe themselves in a long tradition of whispering galleries and other acoustic phenomena that were integral parts of older buildings, from St Paul's cathedral to the U.S. Capitol.
Rebelling against acoustic designers intent to eradicate sound reflections or noise from our built environment and the ideas that sound is a problematic factor in modern architecture we wanted to bring back the intensely magical nature of acoustic experiences.
The creation of the 'Sonic Marshmallows' was conducted in collaboration with acoustic designers Sandy Brown Associates who helped us assess the sound efficiency and optimize the placement of the marshmallows aligning the sculptures by laser during installation. Troika is currently looking into a number of different designs and uses for similar sculptures
Credits and Acknowledgements
Acoustic Engineering: Sandy Brown Associates
Wat Tyler Country Park, Basildon Essex, 2006