Student's brilliant invention makes city streets quieter
Mini-amphitheater champions street musicians without disturbing the neighbors.
Aviv Even didn’t set out to become a champion for street musicians and quieter cities. Her father is a well-known artist in Israel designing everything from furniture to restaurants. She was simply following in his footsteps. The 24-year-old just completed her first year of an architecture, interior and industrial design program at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design, but a recent class assignment led her down a slightly different path.
Even grew up in the bustling Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. She wanted to find out what kinds of sounds are present on a daily basis and which of those are pleasant and which are bothersome. She used a decibel reader to determine where the loudest sounds were coming from and what was causing them. She then used the information to map out the noisiest areas of the city.
“I wanted to find out how much noise there is and which sounds we like best,” Even told From The Grapevine in a phone interview, appropriately conducted on a noisy street.
During her project, she realized that noise pollution can be as disruptive as physical pollution and even deter people from occupying a space. Even had to find a way not only to mitigate the worst city noises, but also to add and amplify pleasant sounds.
The idea was to create a sidewalk-sized amphitheater, which would serve as a convenient space for street musicians to perform while blocking out unwanted street noise.
Even used input from local performers to design the structure so that it would be large enough for a small band to comfortably perform in, but not so large that it would disrupt foot traffic.
The finished structure is made out of wood and metal, has a small bench inside for performers to sit on, and is portable. Even said the ability of the amphitheater to project sound turned out to be as good as she imagined.
“It makes the sound directional,” explained musician Adam Road. “Sound usually rises, which can be bothersome to the neighbors. The amphitheater keeps the sound on the street level and out of nearby apartments and cafes.”
The amphitheater can’t completely block out street noise or exclusively project the sounds of the people performing in it, but the result is significant enough to eliminate the need for speakers while not disturbing the people living, working or relaxing in the surrounding area.
Road, a friend of Even's who has been a street musician for more than six years, was the first to publicly perform in the amphitheater; the concert on a busy Tel Aviv boulevard was broadcast live on Facebook . In addition to directing the sound of his music toward those who actively want to hear it, Road said the setup creates a professional space for street musicians to play in.
“As a musician, your setup is important. If you’ve got a hat on the street, people may throw a few coins in, but the more professional environment you’re in, the more money you’re likely to make. It felt like playing a real show. And the sound was really good inside of it – we also had a violinist playing with us and the amphitheater made it easier for us to balance the sound of the band,” he told us.
The amphitheaters will be available under Even’s burgeoning Rock Paper Scissors brand. She’s already sold one and hopes that in the near future they’ll appear across Tel Aviv and in other cities around the world, not to mention at next year’s Burning Man in Nevada.
In the meantime, the pictures and video she’s posted on Facebook have gone viral. “I just finished my first year at Shenkar. I didn’t expect any of this. I was born in Tel Aviv and I feel that it’s important to do something to contribute to the city,” said the young designer.
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