Singing Ringing Tree, Lancashire Sculpture, Northwest English Art Installation, Architecture Photos

Singing Ringing Tree in Burnley

5 Aug 2021

Design: Tonkin Liu

Location: Burnley, Lancashire, north west England, UK

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree is a wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree set in the landscape of the Pennine hill range overlooking Burnley, in Lancashire, England. From far and wide, the tree’s profile is visible on the horizon, appearing and disappearing in the mist. The design is by London-based Tonkin Liu architects.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

In 2007, the sculpture won (along with 13 other candidates) the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence. In March 2017, a second Singing Ringing Tree was set on the outskirts of Austin, Texas in the United States in the rural area of a small town called Manor.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

What was the brief?
The architectural competition for “all-seeing” structures on a number of derelict, high-point sites, was organised by Mid-Pennine Arts, for the regeneration of the Lancashire Regional Park. These sites all command outstanding views of the countryside. The brief was for a landmark and a shelter, a place from which the public can enjoy the landscape with the aim to draw city residents into the beautiful landscape that surrounds them.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

How is the project unique?
The tree is constructed of stacked pipes of varying lengths. From Burnley, the tree’s profile will be visible on the horizon. It will appear and disappear in the mist. Each layer differs from the next by 15 degrees to respond to the changing wind directions. As the wind passes different length pipes in different layers it will play different chords. Each time you sit under the tree you will hear a different song.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

What building methods were used?
The Crown Point site above Burnley, with a brick shed and two radio masts, has long been an eye-sore visible from the surrounding towns. Our proposal replaced the shed and the masts.

To maximise visibility, the base was raised by building on the lower part of the brick shed. The top half of the shed was demolished, and the rubble formed the hard core onto which a concrete base was made. The mound was then covered with soil and turf and new fenced paths were created through the boggy landscape.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

Mild steel comes in a variety of size with walls of variable thickness. This gave us the variability to develop the structure and sound. Being heavier, the fabrication process was more difficult but the weight helped with the mass required to resist overturning under wind load and live loads, due to the asymmetric form. Unlike stainless steel or aluminium, mild steel can be relatively cheaply welded. To prevent rusting the steel was galvanised which gave a shiny appearance when the construction was new. This has dulled slightly over time whilst still reflecting light in an interesting way.

The tubes were arranged in such a way that the weight of each layer is transferred by steel rings that are bolted together by horizontal bolts in shear to the layer below. The rings also act to tie the tubes in each plane to each other. As the layers are rotated slightly, one to the next, the twist provides horizontal in-plane bracing. The ends of the tubes simply cantilever past the lines of support provided by the rings and the tubes provide a load path for the weight down to the foundation.

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

Singing Ringing Tree in Burnley, Lancashire – Design Information

Design Team: Tonkin Liu
Project size: 6 sqm
Completion date: 2006

Fabrication: Mike Smith Studio
Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates

Singing Ringing Tree Burnley Lancashire

Photos: Mike Tonkin – Tonkin Liu Architects, London, England.

Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley images / information received 050821

A winner of RIBA National Award 2007

Location: Burnley, Lancashire, North West England, UK

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