As a part of an exhibition with urban installations curated by Scott Burnham and organized by Droog Design, NL architects was asked for a contribution. The Pieces would be shown for 6 weeks as a part of the Experimenta Design Amsterdam 2008 (EXDA).
One of the ideas that popped into my mind and finally was one of the two realized projects of NL was the boom bench. My flat-mate had spend the previous summer entirely on the street with a couple of old boom boxes that he had bought on e-bay. He would send music via a transmitter from an I pod or CD player to its radio and together with his friends he danced the days and nights away only returning home for short Pit-stop.
In the area where we life a lot of mainly Moroccan teenagers hang out on park benches. The drive up to them with their scooters and then listen to their music over the speakers of their mobile phones. Since their homes are crowded and full with nagging parents they meet outside.
The boom bench was just bringing these two observations together. The idea is as old as the Walkman and the boom box only the sound quality is poor. So while the sound becomes stationary again you can have more volume.
The Boom Bench features eight 60-watt co-axial speakers and two subwoofers that can be accessed through Bluetooth. The Boom Bench in a way is a super-sized Docking Station. Connect your player to the amplifier and take control. Now you can play your music with 95 dB high quality sound. A Bass Shaker in the seat transforms the deep sounds into vibrations that enhance the physical sensation of your tunes.
Playing loud music in public will either attract or repel people. The music extends you personality onto the streets. As such it will shape the place. It is a showing off and putting yourself on the stage. Either you start an instant party or mark your territory. The music acts as an acoustic sign.
The Boom Bench was placed on the North bank of the River IJ, right in the physical center of Amsterdam next to the ferry terminal. It was online between the 18th September until the 2nd of November 2008 and instantaneously popular. Amsterdam North has a bad fame as being the place where mostly socially weak people are living. Already the same evening, guys would play Lil Wayne on it while wiping down their scooters. But also other people got curious. Once a man around 40 explained to me how the bench worked, not knowing that I had designed it. I could only see “Celine Dion” on the screen as he pressed play and I shouted out a silent: “NOOOO!” into my chest. But what can you do? The bench was truly democratic! Soon after his ferry arrived and he went towards it. The connection only broke when he was a few meters away from its landing, about 15 meters away from the bench. Soon after it was used by the next persons...*
Framework: Experimenta Design Amsterdam 2008; idea march 2008, execution 18th september - 2nd november 2008; Commissioner:
Droog Design / Urban Play Event 2; Project manager@ Droog: Nora Schuit; Curator: Scott Burnham; Designer / Project Architect: Michael Schoner; Carpenters: 2D&W; Audio Installation: Audiopro