Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Wobbly bridge tunes up to give out good vibrations


LONDON'S MILLENNIUM bridge will become a musical instrument this week as a series of vibration sensors translates the movement caused by the wind and people walking across it into music.

From Friday, the resulting sound will be continuously piped into Tate Modern's Turbine Hall and nearby Southwark Tube station.

The project was conceived by sound artist Bill Fontana in close collaboration with Arup, the bridge's engineers.

Arup picked the most harmonic points on the structure to locate the sensors.

Four sensors will be located on the tension wires on the bridge's balustrade and another four on the main suspension cables.

The bridge is most famous for swaying as pedestrians walked over it for the fi rst time six years ago (NCE 15 June 2000).

It has since been fitted with dampers to control overall horizontal movement. These will not affect the localised vibrations picked up by the sensors, said Arup Acoustics associate director Richard Greer.

'We're talking about vibrations which are unsusceptible to people, but which naturally occur in urban environments, ' he said.

As wind blows across the wires, vortex shedding distorts the wind fl w, which can be translated into sound. Greer describes the sound produced as similar to a stringed instrument but with 'ethereal qualities', punctuated by people's footsteps.

The 'sound sculpture' will be known as the Harmonic Bridge and will performing until 16 July 2006.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.