A12 Acoustic Barrier

Beep Studio, , 2020



Photography by Edmund Sumner     Download Original

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Both public artwork and acoustic shield, this installation marks the first UK use of an innovative new type of acoustic panels in a construction aimed at reducing people’s experience of noise pollution

The striking sculptural design turns a civil engineering project into a memorable public artwork. The design and construction team was led by architects Beep Studio, in collaboration with Expedition Engineering, Cake Industries, Echo Barrier, and Power & Line.

The project delivery was managed by housing association, Poplar HARCA, and funded by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Transport for London (TfL).

Drawing inspiration from the nearby waterways, the artwork’s geometry is one of folded surfaces and flowing lines. The folds add stiffness, texture, and interest, and this is further enhanced by the reflective material, which picks up fluctuations in light over the course of the day and accentuates the relatively low relief of the sculpture. Surface anodising provides soft and subtle colour.

Most acoustic treatments reduce noise by using soft or textured surfaces to absorb vibrations. The ‘Silk Metal’ system used here is intended to work differently: An aluminium sheet perforated with tiny holes less than a millimetre in diameter forms the front face of a closed box. As sound waves hit the sheet it starts to vibrate, forcing air trapped in the box through the perforations: the resulting friction slows the passage of air, which in turn reduces the vibration of the sheet, and echoing and reverberating sound.

Each cassette in the assembly is linked together into larger groups, which in turn are mounted to a carefully articulated concrete footing. These footings require no permanent fix to the highway and can be removed through a simple crane lift.

Annual CO2 emissions data was not provided.


  • Begun: Oct 2020
  • Completed: Nov 2020
  • Floor area: 30m2
  • Sector: Transport
  • Total cost: £156,000
  • Funding: LB Tower Hamlets, Transport for London and Poplar HARCA
  • Tender date: Feb 2018
  • Procurement: Manufacture & Supply Agreement

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