Tuesday 12 Apr 2011


Bruce Munro's Water-Towers installation was ecologically thoughtful, being lit with the latest energy-efficient LED technology.

It's important to Munro to be responsible to the environment, and he likes using simple materials: in this case fluted bottles full of water, and laser cut OSB board.

Munro and his team laced 69,000 meters of optic fibre through 15,000 bottles. Each of the 69 towers is built of 216 bottles containing a total of 30 tons of water, and together they form a massive, musical, watery maze which changes colour in an offset pattern, seeming to dance to the music.

When viewed from across the cloisters the stone arches in silhouette are vivid with colour, like stained glass windows. "As a young chorister, I remember being captivated by sunlight splashing colours onto the white-washed walls of our school chapel. I hope that Water-Towers at Salisbury will evoke something of the awe I felt at such simple but dramatic lighting effects."

A custom designed control system with sound reactive projectors responds to a soundtrack of the Salisbury Choir, played via hidden speakers as visitors wander through the maze, reflecting the sounds that have infused this building for 750 years - and translating them into light. The light projectors use full-colour, low voltage LEDs. Each projector has its own microprocessor, and is digitally linked to a master controller. All 69 towers together use roughly the same power as four 60-Watt bulbs: or less than one tenth of the power consumed by an electric kettle.

The system was designed by Graham Harrison, who was given the challenge of how to represent music in a form other than aurally. The aim was to put forward as much information in the lighting as was contained in the music as possible. Dominant frequencies and variations in volume change the speed of the shifting colours. Each tower reacts in a slightly different way to the information received about the music being played, in much the same way that no two listeners hear an identical rendition of the same source.

Water is a recurring theme in Munro's work - and it's fitting that he should be creating Water-Towers in Salisbury, a town built at the confluence of five rivers. Eventually the water filling the 15,000 bottles will be poured back into the earth around the Cathedral.

Bruce Munro Ltd.


more projects by this designer