Silophone

Categories: Architettura, Audio
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Published on: 23 May 2010

Silophone combines sound, architecture, and communication technologies to transform a significant landmark in the industrial cityscape of Montreal, Canada.

By telephone, or even the internet, they will send the sound of your choice echoing through the incredible acoustics of abandoned rusted halls and corridors of this imposing building.

Silo #5 is an abandoned grain storage facility in the port of Montréal. A quarter of a mile long and over twenty storeys high, it has a total capacity of five million bushels, or enough wheat to make 230 million loaves of bread. The building was constructed in several stages between 1903 and 1958. The newest part of the building was designed to last for generations, however due to changes in the global grain market and to the general trend of de-industrialization in North America at the end of the 20th century, the building became redundant less than forty years after its completion. Since 1994, Silo #5 has stood empty, and its fate has been hotly debated. The building is situated in one of Montréal’s oldest industrial districts, now rapidly being gentrified and renovated for high-tech commercial, luxury residential, and tourism/leisure industry uses.

The portion of the structure used by Silophone is constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, measures 200 metres long, 16 metres wide and approximately 45 metres at its highest point. The main section of the building is formed of approximately 115 vertical chambers, all 30 metres high and up to 8 metres in diameter. These tall parallel cylinders, whose form evokes the structure of an enormous organ, have exceptional acoustic properties: most notably, a stunning reverberation time of over 20 seconds. Anything played inside the Silo is euphonized, made beautiful, by the acoustics of the structure. All those who have entered have found it an overwhelming and unforgettable experience.

telephone access
Using your telephone, you can enter into — and participate in — the acoustic world of the Silo. More than one person can use the telephone system at once, so when you telephone you may find somebody else already in the Silo. This teleconference system was specifically adapted for use in the Silophone by engineers from Bell’s Emerging Technologies Group.
To call the Silophone from North America: 1.514.844.5555
From the rest of the world: 001.514.844.5555
Wait until the second ring, then start talking.

audio website
Go to the play page of this website to access the on-line dimension of the Silophone musical instrument. From this page, you can send pre-recorded sound files into Silophone by browsing through the thousands of uploaded sounds, or by uploading your own soundfile.

Whenever anyone is playing the Silophone over the telephone, the web, or the sonic observatory, you can hear the results by tuning into our live RealAudio stream. To hear the Silophone stream now, click the “hear Silophone” link at the bottom left hand corner of the page.

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