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VIDEO: Soundforms mobile performance shell unveiled in London

Ahren Lester
VIDEO: Soundforms mobile performance shell unveiled in London

Is it time for you to shell out on a Soundforms acoustic shell? Many events organisers and rental companies may well be asking this question as Soundforms successfully unveiled its stunning and revolutionary acoustic performance shell at an event in London on March 6th.

The Soundforms design is a remarkable standalone mobile acoustic performance shell—the first of its kind—which provides a superb acoustic experience for performer and audience alike.

“The idea of this,” explained one of the architects, Jason Flanagan, “is to create an acoustic interior which is essentially like playing on a concert hall platform. So you get that sense of reverberance and the performers can hear each other and therefore perform a lot better.”

London-based Soundforms emerged after respected conductor and producer Mark Stephenson approached the architects BFLS for them to design a number of acoustic panels to enhance the sound quality during outdoor performances. BFLS went a step further, however, delivering the unique standalone mobile acoustic performance shell which they had first considered 5 years ago.

Stephenson then started Soundforms in 2009 along with Flanagan and another BFLS architect, Paul Bavister, as well as Ian Knowles of ARUP Acoustic and Olly Watts of ES Global. Soundforms then secured £500,000 of Enterprise Investment Scheme funding for an 18-month design-build programme with eight months dedicated to building the shell itself.

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The London Docklands event saw the result of these labours on March 6th. VIP guests were delighted by performances from the world’s most talented jazz and classical musicians.

Classical pianist Grace Francis opened proceedings followed by BBC Jazz legend Iain Bellamy. The London Philharmonic Orchestra then came to the stage with top-draw performance of Bach by the violinists Charlie Siem and Nicola Benedetti. Sonic segues were provided by DJ’s Gabriel Prokofiev and Jem Panufnik.

“Musicians on the stage will hear themselves playing which they generally can’t do properly in an outdoor tented experience,” added Watts, “and it will lift their performance and provide a higher level of performance for the audience.”

The almost extra-terrestrial shell is also easily transportable. The lightweight aluminium frame is clad with a waterproof inflatable material. Inside the shell itself are acoustic reflectors which optimise the clarity of the individual instruments.

Overall, Soundforms claim that the whole rig can be fully constructed in only two to three days and is both easily transportable and value-for-money: “It is very portable,” explained Flanagan, “it fits into two trucks and it costs about £300,000 to buy a shell.”

On the day itself, the shell did not use any mics or loudspeakers. However, the shell itself can easily accommodate such systems. It can also include optional lighting options to brings the shells surface to life.

The Soundforms shell comes in three sizes. Mark I is the smallest able to accommodate 15 musicians with a sound projection audience reach of up to 750. Mark II is larger and able to accommodate up to 60 musicians and reach up to 750 (unamplified) or 2000 (amplified) audience members. Finally, the largest Mark III is able to accommodate 100 musicians and—with the support of an advanced sound system—is able to reach audiences of between 20,000 and 40,000.

Unsurprising, Soundforms has already had sales enquiries from around the world for the new shells.

You can view a NBC video from the London Docklands event below:

Tags: Installation, Live Sound, london, Festivals, soundforms

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