HSBC turns Gatwick Airport into a sonic journey
There are some things that just you cannot put into words nor do justice with an image only. Sound however stimulates hearing in a way that is able to capture the essence of a place or experience, which can trigger imagination to fill the gaps with your other senses.
If you have walked along the London Gatwick Airport skybridge in departures then you will agree with me when I say heading to your gate is a journey abroad in itself. Along the 194 metre walkway is ‘A Living River’, the world’s largest interactive sound installation created in an airport. It was commissioned by HSBC.
With the help of J. Walter Thompson London and a talented sound team, HSBC have transformed the walkway to the departure gate teleporting passengers to a snippet of life along the Yangtze river in China. The exaggeration is slim, if you keep you eyes closed along the way (not advised).
In the two minutes that it takes to get across the skybridge, you effectively pass along 6300km-long Yangzte river and are ear-bathed in its wild life, people, local businesses and towns across 35 points across the river.
The detail and creativity gone into recreating this sound world has succeeded in making you feel as if you are actually there. As you walk along the bridge you are impressed with sounds that you would not expect to hear at that point in time or in an airport. This naturally makes you look around. Most passengers are instantly intrigued; and then actually start to pay attention. They start looking for clues of what is happening, explanations for who is behind it all. They find the brand behind the sound creation.
So what makes it work? It is real.
With the help of 28 kilometres of speaker cable, 160 speakers, and 80 channels of independent sound the sound engineers on the project recreated life along the river with such realism that it enabled them to bring the place to life back in England.
It does not just stop there; innovation has a mark and in this case it is ensuring that anyone passing along the bridge more than once will never have the same sound experience – as would be the case if one were to travel along the Yangtze itself.
Two creative features helped to create the ever changing and unique soundscape – the use of motion sensors to pick up on movements of passing passengers which trigger certain sounds and incorporation of real time weather sonics captured from the Yangtze itself and played through speakers along the walkway.
For HSBC it enabled them showcase another aspect of their business and to “demonstrat[e] our global network through our presence and a chance to relay messages about the world we operate in and the customers we serve.” Through the use of space and creativity HSBC were able to spread their message to the 7 million people that pass through the skywalk each year.
Perhaps you might even pop along to Gatwick Airport just to take a dive into the world of the Yangtze river.