Music Boxes MIF

BDP Boxes Clever For MIF with MediaCityUK’s Shipping Container Music Installation

By Lee Isherwood | 1 June 2011

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BDP Boxes Clever For Manchester International Festival
MediaCityUK’s Shipping Container Music Installation Revealed

BDP’s Manchester Studio has partnered with the Manchester International Festival (MIF) to design Music Boxes – a musical playground designed for children aged 6 months to 7 years.

BDP’s Manchester Chairman Gavin Elliott and Design Associate Jasper Sanders have designed a mini city of shipping containers which will be constructed at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays, the new home of Children’s BBC.

The 78 steel units will be stacked up to three high in an irregular pattern, eschewing the traditional logic of containers in linear rows to create an elliptical, enveloping shape.

This layout has been developed deliberately by BDP to evoke the natural geometry and symmetry of sound, the serrated planes of spaces that receive and reflect sound, and the sculptural form making of minimalist artists such as Donald Judd and Richard Serra.

Other features evocative of shipping incorporated into BDP’s design concept include a sail-like canopy, formed from wire rigging and truck tarpaulins, suspended over the central area, in addition to giant, stencilled, super-graphic signage panels affixed to the ends of the containers.

Gavin Elliot said of the project: “We’re delighted to be working with MIF on such a playful and creative project which will resonate both literally and figuratively within its surroundings.

“We’ve sought to ensure that the design captures the spirit of the shipping container as the ubiquitous tool of world trade and a true 20th Century icon.

“We also wanted to reflect both the industrial heritage of Salford Quays and the next chapter of its regeneration, which will see working docks return to the area some thirty years after the last ones closed.”

Festival Director Alex Poots said of Music Boxes: “We’re committed to making high quality work for children, an area which can often be undervalued. We’re pleased to be collaborating with these fantastic artists, the BBC, Salford City Council and BDP on such an exciting, ambitious project.”

Once installed  some containers will become miniature performance spaces, some will be specially customised recording and animation studios, while others will be kitted out as interactive installations allowing the very young to explore a fantastical world of sound and music.

To create the Music Box installation, BDP worked closely with curator Rachel Clare of Crying Out Loud and George Woolley of Universal Containers. Music Boxes workshops and sessions for children will run throughout the 2011 Manchester International Festival, with free tickets available from today (June 1st) via

Music Boxes is commissioned by MIF Creative, BBC, Salford City Council and Abu Dhabi Festival, produced by Manchester International Festival and CBeebies, and supported by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).

SAT 2 – SUN 17 JULY: TUE – FRI 10.00, 12.45 / SAT & SUN 09.45, 12.45, 15.45

Box Office: / Quaytickets +44 161 876 2198
Tickets available from 1 June

Advance booking strongly recommended as capacity is strictly limited