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Musical railing and pavilion among public art for Timber Works in Cambridge





Musical railings and a ‘weather soundscape’ within a seating pavilion are some of interactive public art pieces approved by councillors at Timber Works in Cambridge.

The city council granted permission for 295 homes off Cromwell Road in 2019 and the development is nearing completion. A condition of approval was providing public art and Hill Partnerships proposed bird boxes, finger posts, tree stakes, a sunray trellis, musical railings and a pavilion. Three artists were commissioned to create proposals based on the natural environment and climate change.

Illustrative image of public art planned at Timber Works - pavilion. Picture: Hill Partnerships
Illustrative image of public art planned at Timber Works - pavilion. Picture: Hill Partnerships

The pavilion will have a covered seating area for 12 people with speakers creating a soundscape based on weather recordings. Documents submitted as part of the application state: “Within the shelter, the visitor’s acoustic and visual experience of the current weather conditions will be subtly exaggerated.

“The structure of the shelter is designed to enhance the sound of the rain and the wind, while the inverted conical roof will channel the rainfall to a central point, creating a dramatic visual effect. Speakers will be dispersed across the internal frame of the structure to create a three-dimensional soundscape.

“As the temperature starts to rise, the listener will hear crickets and Mediterranean birds. These sounds will blend with the real sounds already present in the environment to create a realistic sonic environment. Users of the space will not be able to distinguish between the real and the augmented sounds.”

Bird boxes and a beehive (without bees) are planned in the poetry garden and they will have poems hand-painted on them.

Illustrative image of public art planned at Timber Works - musical railings. Picture: Hill Partnerships
Illustrative image of public art planned at Timber Works - musical railings. Picture: Hill Partnerships

At the musical railing, when someone runs a stick along it, it plays a melody based on subterranean recordings of plants growing at the site.

At the city council’s planning committee meeting on Wednesday (March 1), some councillors raised concerns about the potential for anti-social behaviour in the pavilion. Cllr Robert Dryden (Lab, Cherry Hinton) asked if CCTV would overlook the communal area. Officers did not believe there was CCTV but said the issue had been considered earlier and the pavilion had been redesigned to make it more open.

Cllr Dave Baigent (Lab, Romsey) said the development “deserved” public art. Cllr Naomi Bennett (Green, Abbey) raised concerns about the accessibility of the pavilion, and suggested the broadwalk should be wide enough to help people access the pavilion, even if they could not go inside. Officers said it would be 1.5m wide which Cllr Bennett believed would be adequate.

The committee agreed to add an informative asking for accessibility to the pavilion to be considered when the proposals are put in place. Members voted unanimously in favour of approving the plans.



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