Great things to do with shipping containers #2

Andy Dixon - September 2011

BDP’s Manchester studio partnered with the Manchester International Festival (MIF) to design Music Boxes – a musical playground designed for children aged 6 months to 7 years.
shipping containers - experiential music boxes

BDP’s Manchester Chairman  Gavin Elliott and Design Associate Jasper Sanders designed a mini city  of shipping containers which were constructed at MediaCityUK in Salford  Quays, the new home of Children’s BBC in the UK.

The 78 steel  units were 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 was 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.
Other features evocative of shipping incorporated into  BDP’s design concept include a sail-like canopy, formed from wire  rigging and truck tarpaulins, suspended over the central area, in  addition to giant, stencilled, super-graphic signage panels affixed to  the ends of the containers.
Gavin Elliot said of the project: “We’re  delighted to have worked 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.
shipping containers - experiential music boxes2

“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.”
Festival Director Alex  Poots said of Music Boxes: ““We’re committed to making high quality work  for children, an area which can often be undervalued. We’re pleased to  be collaborating with these fantastic artists, the BBC, Salford City  Council and BDP on such an exciting, ambitious project.”
Once  installed  some containers became miniature performance spaces, some  were specially customised recording and animation studios, while others  were kitted out as interactive installations allowing the very young to  explore a fantastical world of sound and music.

shipping containers - experiential music boxes3

To create  the Music Box installation, BDP worked closely with curator Rachel  Clare of Crying Out Loud and George Woolley of Universal Containers.  Music Boxes workshops and sessions for children ran throughout the 2011  Manchester International Festival  (30 June to 17 July.)
Installation concept and design by BDP.

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 (AGMA).

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