Now on display in an Estonian forest near Tallinn are three gigantic wooden megaphones. Built by Estonian Academy of Arts interior architecture students, these megaphones amplify the intricate and subtle sounds of nature, but also double as art an installation and resting area.
Hannes Praks, head of the school’s Interior Architecture Department, describes the three-meter diameter megaphones as “bandstands,” which are traditionally circular or semi-circular structures use for live musical performances in parks.
"We’ll be placing the three megaphones at such a distance and at a suitable angle, so at the centre of the installation, sound feed from all three directions should create a unique merged surround sound effect," Praks says.
As Praks notes, the project was launched a year ago in a workshop deep in the South Estonian woods. There, interior architecture students worked with Estonian semiotician and popular author Valdur Mikiti on a forest library. Several ideas were proposed, but the group settled on student Birgit Õigus’ idea of the forest megaphones.
Derelict Furniture designers Tõnis Kalve and Ahti Grünberg, as well as the architecture firm b210’s architects Aet Ader, Karin Tõugu, Kadri Klementi, and Mari Hunt instructed the students as far as design and construction. Most of the installation was built in Tallinn at the end of August, then shipped to Võrumaa, Pähni Nature Centre, close to the Latvian border, where it’s now installed.
While Õigus’s idea may sound somewhat unnecessary to the casual observer, as forests are naturally well-amplified, Õigus’ notion hits on something intriguing: that the symphony of forests—their rhythms, musicality and sonic ambience—are every bit as valid as our traditional assumptions about music. And, consequently, also worth amplifying—minus electricity.
The giant megaphones will also help people take notice of the forest’s silence, as Mikiti suggests, saying: "It’s a place to listen, to browse the audible book of nature—there hasn’t really been a place like that in Estonia before.”
Read more about the Forest Megaphones over at BLDGBLOG.