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Sound Cubes Installed

I have installed a sound attenuating system in the gallery to combat the annoying reverb that was occurring when speaking to customers. After several design attempts on paper, Michelle and I decided on the concept of cubes that I’m nick-naming “sound cubes”.

I’ve been worrying about a solution since last summer and initially we thought that hanging fabric banners from the ceiling would be enough to combat the problem. The gallery is made up of hard surfaces – two pairs of tall, parallel walls, a concrete floor and steel ceiling. This adds up to a classic scenario for reverberation of sound to occur. Some kind of soft, sound absorbing surfaces must be introduced, but Michelle and I want to keep the raw industrial look. I consulted a sound engineer friend and he told me that banners would be useless. The best solution in our situation was to use sheets of foam, and orientate them parallel to or perpendicular to the floor. He suggested I look at a website of a company that provided high tech sound baffles and I saw these ingenious cube forms, suspended from their corners used in a high school music room. I thought, “I could make those!”

I tested two types of sheet foam and decided that simple 1.5 thick styrofoam was the best. I cut and assembled four identical cubes and painted them the same colour as the gallery’s white walls. I left the sixth side of each cube open, so sound can pass through the other five walls. I was fortunate to have my friend, Gwyn Shipman and his colleague, Valery Fraser ride a rented lift to install some pulleys on the rafters to lift and hold the cubes. These two are professional riggers in the film industry, so going up 24 feet in the air was no sweat to them (I’m not great with heights), while I assisted from the gallery floor.

Now the lightweight sound cubes are floating overhead and their sides and substance absorb and deflect noise from the floor. Their sides oppose the parallel walls, ceiling and floor. I am pleased that the reverb problem has been reduced significantly. They are both functional and sculptural at the same time.

I look froward to your visit, so you can see and hear how they work – of course, I hope you also enjoy the sculptures on display on the gallery floor, too!