Coca Cola's Olympic Beatbox is a Building with a Beat

coca cola beat boxBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Much has been written about Coca Cola's Beatbox at the Olympic Park. It has gotten kudos from the design crowd, the architects and the cool police.

It is gorgeous to look at. Architects Pernilla and Asif have created a bright red attractive structure. It is one of a series of interactive, participatory pavilions allotted to sponsors and it really stands out from that crowd.

It is a building with a beat, created from the sporting sounds of athletes.

coca cola beat boxBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

According to organizers,

Its giant crystalline structure is made up of over 200 interlocked translucent air cushions, each the size of a billboard. Integrated within the 200 cushions is groundbreaking audio, lighting and responsive sensor technology, which has been used by the architects to upload the rhythmical sport sounds into the structure.

coca cola beat boxBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

It's red and edgy and spikey looking, with a long queue of people waiting half an hour to get in. But then what?

You walk up a ramp, led in small groups to the first stop. There the enthusiastic guide tells you a story of what sound it is and what panel to touch (all marked touch) and then you listen for a specific noise. This could be the sound of breathing, an archery bow being released or squeaky running shoes.

coca cola beat boxBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Good enough. But then you are led to the next stop, same story, same listening, same touching. Then you are led on to the next stop, with the same hectoring at each stop. This continues about 7 more times until you reach the top of the ramp. Freedom!

There you get to see a spectacular vista of the site and have your photo taken with a replica of the Olympic torch.

Incarcerated by Coke: not done yet, you are led in a small group into a long hallway where another volunteer tells you to be happy. You get a free bottle of Coca Cola in a recyclable, collectable aluminum bottle. The organizers explain;

A living, breathing light show that has been designed to emulate the energy released when a bottle of Coca-Cola is served and shared. 180 bespoke mechatronic ‘bubbles’ glow rhythmically in time with Mark Ronson’s track. Controlled with individual code, each bubble has eight polypropylene blades that fold in on themselves

coca cola beat boxBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Next stop: you get led in a small group, to the dance floor, with a nice light show and nice red chinese lanterns where Then you are released from Coke prison. At last!

A great concept, but too complicated, self-conscious and slow for the thousands that will dutifully make their way through it.

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