Deaf­en­ing Si­lence

An eye-catch­ing sanc­tu­ary that high­lights the pro­lif­er­a­tion of sound pol­lu­tion

Bespoke - - WHOA! -

One of the most thought pro­vok­ing ex­hibits at this year’s Beirut De­sign Week (which was its sixth edi­tion since in­cep­tion) was an off-site, bright pink, two-storey shed, en­ti­tled ‘The Silent Room’. It was cre­ated by Nathalie Harb, a pro­duc­tion de­signer and artis­tic di­rec­tor whose work ex­plores the nar­ra­tive po­ten­tial of spa­ces and ob­jects, and her de­sire was to al­low every­one to es­cape the noise of traf­fic, con­struc­tion sites, elec­tron­ics and crowds, and not just the priv­i­leged few who can af­ford it. “Noise pol­lu­tion is ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fer­ently by rich and poor in­hab­i­tants of the city,” she says. “This rep­re­sents a so­cial in­jus­tice.” Harb worked with Lon­don-based ar­chi­tec­ture col­lec­tive BÜF to cre­ate the struc­ture and called on sound de­signer, Khaled Yas­sine, to cre­ate a sound­track for the space, which is not ac­tu­ally silent, but in­stead re­plays recordings of the city at its qui­etest hour. Harb also ex­plained that the shed’s dis­tinc­tive colour was cho­sen be­cause pink used to be pop­u­lar with turn-of-the-cen­tury Beiruti houses “but we gave it more sat­u­ra­tion to stand out in the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. I also loved that, un­like more muted colours, pink is not usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with si­lence. I wanted to cre­ate that vis­ual dis­place­ment or el­e­ment of sur­prise and make it no­tice­able like a bunker – but one that in­vites you to peace.”

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