These architectural objects are “gigantic wooden megaphones” for the forest, part of an acoustic installation in Estonia’s gorgeous Pähni Nature Centre for amplifying the sounds of the landscape.
“According to interior architect Hannes Praks,” we read in a newly published press release, “who leads the Interior Architecture Department of the [Estonian Academy of Arts] that initiated the installation project, the three-metre diameter megaphones will operate as a ‘bandstand’ for the forest around the installation, amplifying the sounds of nature.”
The actual design is by a student named Birgit Õigus.
Part building, part furniture, part recreational folly, they’re meant to focus visitor attention on the smallest acoustic details of the site—rainfall, branches brushing against one another in the breeze, distant footsteps, thunder.
Sit in them, read books, whisper to friends, listen to birds.
Not having visited these in person, I can’t speak to their performance—i.e. whether they function as planned—and the relatively orderly placement of each structure in the woods might very well lead to some unfortunately conservative acoustic effects.
Nonetheless, it’s a great idea for a project, and the geometric simplicity of the stained timber frame is compelling.
In turn, makes me wonder how these forest megaphones might appear six or seven decades from now, when small groups of hikers stumble upon the moss-covered forms of this old acoustic infrastructure, trying to determine amongst themselves if the strange audio effects and interrupted echoes they notice still filtering through the wooden forms are a curious accident or an engineered goal.