In conjunction with the Belfast Festival of Art & Design, we designed and installed a pop-up recording studio and record label on the Shankill Road, titled ‘Making Conversations: The Shankill’. Situated on an ordinary British high street in every way other than its notorious history during the Troubles, we worked alongside students at the Belfast School of Architecture, University of Ulster, and local arts and cultural venue, Spectrum Centre, to conceive, design and build the music booth over a variety of workshops that took place in the months leading up to the Belfast Festival of Art & Design.
Utilising digital tools and traditional research methods – such as facilitating multiple conversations with the people who live, work and play in Shankill today – this workshop explored the concepts of ‘listening’ and ‘making’ to record the voices of the Shankill music community over a period of two days. After committing their voices to vinyl, we provided these local musicians with a unique 7-inch single to take home with them, free of charge.
The studio unit was built as a set of panels for ease of construction, as well as allowing easy transportation to various locations on the Shankill Road. The design was divided into two sections: an enclosed studio for audio mixing, and a soundproofed, partially open ‘stage’ to record street performances as well as the ambient noise of the Shankill Road. Circular cut-out windows in the booth echoed the shape of vinyl records, hinting at the purpose of the structure.
Built as a prototype to test community ideas through the medium of music, Shankill Sounds presented a playful challenge which allowed all participants in the workshop to learn from the process, physically test, receive feedback from users and transfer all of our learning into the final outcome.
Belfast Festival of Art & Direction