The Sound of the Pavilion


At the heart of the UK Expo Pavilion is music and an AI.  When visitors step inside the Choral Space, they will enter a unique musical experience, designed and composed by sound and audio installation artists, Polyphonia.

As part of the vision for the UK Pavilion, Polyphonia were commissioned to create an immersive, multi-layered audio installation that responded to the theme of, “innovating for a shared future”. In response to the brief they have composed a piece of music that transforms the Choral Space into a living audio landscape. In their arrangement, layered tracks of unaccompanied choral music blend with instrumental and percussion tracks alongside organic sounds and synthesised textures. As well as being heard, this complete surround sound environment is experienced physically through the vibrations from four large subwoofers installed under the flooring.

The multiple speakers hidden in the walls, ceiling and floors allow the technicians and artists at Polyphonia to format and layer sound, to ensure it fills the unusual space. ‘We have divided the space into three sections that allow us to be very precise in where we direct the sound,’ Andy Theakstone from Polyphonia.


Jade and Andy
Diagram of speaker layout

The individual tracks will be pre-recorded but the arrangement will not be finalised until Polyphonia are in the space so they can arrange the piece in response to the space, acoustics, shape and feeling. Separate tracks will be layered and directed to separate speakers ensuring that listeners have a changing experience as they move around the space.

Visually too, each visitor’s experience will be unique. LUX Technical and Luke Halls are the companies responsible for the processing and display of the couplets generated by the AI poetry algorithm.

Polyphonia has worked with them to let the music affect the appearance of the words on the screens in the Choral Space as they interact in a complex choreography. Inspired by the UK Pavilion theme, the Department of International Trade (DIT) ran an international campaign asking individuals everywhere to record themselves performing the pre-composed parts of the soundscape. The project offered people the chance to showcase their musical talents, have fun producing submissions with family and friends, and continue the tradition of virtual choirs, orchestras and musical sessions that have flourished during COVID-19 lockdowns around the world.

Through the Pavilion and its digital companion, visitors will explore the UK’s role in building our shared future. Polyphonia’s Jade Pybus described the composition ‘as the expression of a country from past to future’ attempting to capture this shared future and its roots in our shared past, in their choice of style, genre and instrument – from single human voice to computer-enabled synthesisers.

Jade Pybus from Polyphonia said, ‘We have composed a meditative soundscape which reflects the key artistic aspirations of the UK Pavilion and its architectural shape, the atmosphere they share together will feel at once ancient and futuristic.’

The audio-installation aims to be the emotional climax of the visitor’s experience, creating a meditative space out of the hustle and bustle of Expo, and encouraging visitors to think about what they have learnt on their journey and about the Pavilion’s theme, ‘We are Innovating for a Shared Future’.