Human Burrow

With Antoine Bertin and Atists & Engineers for Kielder Arts and Northumbrian Water

The brief for this project was to create a human-scale 'burrow' underground, as an installation for sound-artist Antoine Bertin. The burrow is equipped with an array of speakers which play the sounds and vibrations of Antoine's site-specific composition. By amplifying certain spectrums of the piece, the installation provides human visitors the experience of being a small burrowing creature in a den, and how footsteps, environmental sounds and other creatures may sound at this scale.

To achieve this we modified two shipping contains so that we could fit the installation out in our factory prior to burying it in a hillside at Kielder.

Antoine and Artists & Engineers developed a virtual 3D model of the interior contours, which are designed to feel as natural as possible, with some nooks and crevices carved out to form seating or resting areas. These areas were carefully 'tuned' to transmit vibrations through the wall materials and to the body when touched.

To create the contours we lined the space with solid Portuguese cork blocks. We first framed the units out in a plywood lattice grid. Then the cork blocks milled out rough on our CNC router, before being fitted to the plywood framework and then hand worked into the final shape.

Due to the unusual setting and the fact the the light levels are permanently very dim, we liaised with a Disability Discrimination Act consultant to work through the design of the piece to ensure that the work was both accessible and safe for use by people with differing abilities.

This was an extremely unusual project but just the sort of highly bespoke work we excel in.