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Squarepusher installed in Trafalgar Square sound portal

This year’s London Design Festival features acoustic and sound design, in the form of the BE OPEN Sound Portal created by engineering and design firm Arup, situated in the centre of Trafalgar Square.

For this year’s tenth anniversary of the London Design Festival, acoustic and sound design will feature along with the visual, in the form of the BE OPEN Sound Portal: a black, rubberized, box-like structure created by engineering and design firm Arup, situated in the centre of Trafalgar Square. Until this Sunday, 23 September, the BE OPEN Sound Portal will host one of five leading musicians and sound artists, each of whom has been specially commissioned by Sound and Music to create a unique soundscape. “Some of them are presenting their pieces using Ambisonics (a multi-spearker surround format), and using Ambisonic panning to position their sources in the 3D environment,” said Ned Crowe, acoustic consultant at Arup. “Some of them are using a much more manual approach where all the panning and positioning is done physically around a SoundField microphone, which is then decoded into the array that we’ve got. Yet others are not using Ambisonics at all, but have designed their pieces so that it’s multi-channel routed to specific individual speakers around you, so there’s a good mixture of approaches.” Inside the alien-looking structure are nine B&W CT7.4 LCRS monitors, powered by a 12-channel Rotel RMB-1512 amplifier, arranged in three triangles of speakers stacked on top of each other. Under the bench in the centre of the portal are two B&W CT SW10 subs powered by a B&W SA 1000 amplifier. Audio is sent to the loudspeakers from a MacBook Pro running Reaper to a MOTU 828mk3 interface. Featured so far at the Sound Portal this week were compositions by composers Ivan Pavlov, Nathaniel Robin Mann and Jo Thomas. Wrapping up the installation this weekend are works by Tom Jenkinson (aka Squarepusher) on Saturday, and Jana Winderen on Sunday. Elena Baturina, founder of BE OPEN, commented: “We’ve set up BE OPEN so that we can work with the great creative minds of today, encouraging them to continue to innovate so that they can improve on what we have and generate solutions for tomorrow’s world. The designers of the BE OPEN Sound Portal and those who will be creating soundscapes for it are at the cutting edge: they are the future of acoustic evolution. So a journey into the BE OPEN Sound Portal is a must for anyone interested in hearing what tomorrow will be like.” After its residency in Trafalgar Square, the Portal will be installed at Chelsea College of Art and Design, where it will host student sound works, commissioned by BE OPEN, that will be presented in 2013 as part of BE OPEN Inside the Academy, a platform to support emerging talent.