Found Sound - Musical instrument for school playground

As part of the design of the playgrounds for Old Ford Primary School the school was very keen to involve children in the conception and building of their playgrounds. The design for the forest playground included a Musical Instrument, which was to be conceived and built in a series of experimental workshops with year 2 children once the playground was complete.
Pupils experimented with different sounds and techniques using many collected, recycled and found objects. The sounds were soon focused on expressing emotions: happy, sad, excited, calm, scary (tying in with the curriculum: ‘Who am I?’ ‘What are my emotions?’ ).
During the following session the children built small installations to explore these emotional sounds spatially. Based on these installations, erect architecture proposed a concept for the final built piece: Found objects were to be suspended within a cube to define four different emotional spaces: The open happy space challenging children to jump in order to reach bright sounding objects is followed by the curved low anticipation tunnel with ambiguous sounds. In a surprise moment, the tunnel opens up into the tall and sombre calm space, complete with chair and tree & sky view. Different floor finishes support the different sound qualities.
The children mocked up the volumes of the three different spaces according to their spatial requirements (’How tall does it need to be to be reached by jumping?’) whilst the frame was erected by an artist/contractor. After exploring the sound quality of the found objects, the children placed the sound objects within the frame and assisted the suspending of the objects.
Location: Tower Hamlets, London
Client: Old Ford Primary School
Cost: £4000 including build
Status: Completed 2008

Contractors: Andy Frost