UK: The innovative design is being supported by a new Enterprise Investment Scheme company, Sound Forms plc, writes David Davies. Established by classical conductor/producer Mark Stephenson and architect Jason Flanagan, Sound Forms is developing the Mobile Acoustic Performance Shell (MAPS) with Arup Acoustics and staging giant ES Group.
Pictured here at prototype stage, the shell is intended to address the poor acoustics associated with many outdoor music events by ensuring that sound is directed towards the audience and performers. With computer tests now successfully completed, Sound Forms is currently raising _2m under the UK government's Enterprise Investment Scheme to construct the first full-size performance shells. The first unit is set to be deployed during London venue Somerset House's next series of summer concerts.
Sound Forms - which has applied for a worldwide patent for the new shell design - expects to sell at least 100 units in its first five years, primarily to event staging and leasing companies, generating pre-tax profits of _3.8m.
A respected conductor and producer with stints at London Musici and The Philarmonia Orchestra to his credit, Stephenson - who is serving as Sound Forms' MD - says that MAPS was inspired by the world-class acoustics of the Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl.
"Little thought has been given to quality outdoor performance since the ancient Greeks built their remarkable acoustical amphitheatres," he tells PSN-e. "Arup Acoustics is designing an acoustical shell worthy of the 21st century, while ES Group are the engineers and producers. [Collectively, this is] a great British technical design team, enabling spectacular outdoor performances to take place across the nation and globally leading up to the Olympics in 2012. Sound Forms plc has been formed to deliver this new Gold Standard benchmark [in order] to revolutionise the open-air concert experience for performers and audiences alike."