BDP blends music and shipping for festival

BDP's Manchester studio has designed a temporary installation using 78 steel containers to be built at Media City UK, the new home of BBC Children, to form part of Manchester International Festival in July.

Music Boxes will be a "musical playground" designed for children aged from six months to seven years. The art installation was designed by BDP Manchester chairman, Gavin Elliott, and design associate, Jasper Sanders.

The design narrative for the work stated: "The 78 steel units will be stacked up to three high in an irregular pattern, eschewing the traditional logic of containers in linear rows to create an elliptical, enveloping shape. This layout has been developed deliberately by BDP to evoke the natural geometry and symmetry of sound, the serrated planes of spaces that receive and reflect sound, and the sculptural form making of minimalist artists such as Donald Judd and Richard Serra."

There will also be a sail-like canopy made of wire rigging and truck tarpaulins, suspended over the central area.

Elliot said: "We're delighted to be working with MIF on such a playful and creative project which will resonate both literally and figuratively within its surroundings. We've sought to ensure that the design captures the spirit of the shipping container as the ubiquitous tool of world trade and a true 20th Century icon.

"We also wanted to reflect both the industrial heritage of Salford Quays and the next chapter of its regeneration, which will see working docks return to the area some thirty years after the last ones closed."

Some containers will be used as small performance spaces, others as customised recording and animation studios and for interactive installations allowing the "very young to explore a fantastical world of sound and music."

BDP worked with curator Rachel Clare of Crying Out Loud and George Woolley of Universal Containers.

  • Music Boxes workshops and sessions for children will run throughout the 2011 Manchester International Festival, with free tickets available from today 1 June via Access Saturday 2 July to Sunday 17 July: Tue – Fri 10.00, 12.45 / Sat & Sun 09.45, 12.45, 15.45. Admission free. Box Office: / Quaytickets +44 161 876 2198.
  • Music Boxes is commissioned by MIF Creative, BBC, Salford City Council and Abu Dhabi Festival, produced by Manchester International Festival and CBeebies, and supported by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.

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