A powerful message.
The Hive was a completely ground-breaking and inspiring approach to British creativity. Designed by award-winning British artist Wolfgang Buttress – and inspired by the research of physicist and bee expert Dr Martin Bencsik – it was initially created for the 2015 Milan Expo to draw attention to the issues of food security and biodiversity.
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Incredibly, The Hive’s soundscape composition from 40,000 bees and 12 musicians got signed to a record label. Shooting to #11 in the vinyl music charts.
Highlighting the crucial role of pollination by bees, 32 horizontal stacked layers of hexagonal aluminium twist together to suggest a swarm of bees. The sculpture is a 14 metre cube raised up on columns so it almost seems to hover.
Our experts were tasked with designing an audiovisual system that would transport people into this ‘live’ beehive – immersing them in a unique space to provide a powerful environmental message.
- Client: Wolfgang Buttress + UK TI
- Architect: BDP
The system we designed moves sound around visitors, with a 360° arrangement of carefully placed loudspeakers that sit inside the pavilion’s structure. Six sub-bass loudspeakers relay sounds in direct response to the behaviours of honey bees located in Nottingham, changing throughout the day and night.
Accelerometers (vibration sensors) are also used to measure the activity – feeding real-time signals to an LED light array inside to create visual effects.
To achieve such an ambitious technical challenge, our Audiovisual team designed a distributed soundscape system installation. This is integrated into the sculpture via a high-quality active loudspeaker system architecture, driven by a central show controller, and user-interface is provided via authenticated touch screens.
The 360° immersive sound field had 3D space panning, and featured upper and lower rings of compact, integrated mid/high frequency loudspeaker units, plus subwoofers around the glass floor.
We worked closely with all parties to create this immersive experience that won Best Pavilion Architecture at the Milan Expo. Now that this fantastic project sits in Kew Gardens, the installation has driven unprecedented visitor numbers and has become a long-term artistic and educational feature within the gardens.
This is an ever-evolving and multi-faceted project that provides a truly immersive experience through the power of digital connectivity.
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Hoare Lea is an absolute pleasure to work with both professionally and personally. What the team helped create for the ever evolving 3D soundscape was, and is, very special.