Piercarlo Quecchia, a photographer based in Basel, has profiled the acoustic defence barriers that line the English coast in his project Sound Mirrors.
The simplistic way in which a slab of concrete plonked on the coast is able to pick up sound frequencies coming from miles away is what grabbed Quecchia’s attention initially as he explains,
“They represent an incredible demonstration of how sound can generate a physical form: both the curvature radius and the dimensions of the dishes are studied and designed according to the sound frequency that they must reflect,” said Quecchia.
The bulk of the sound mirrors were built in the aftermath of the First World War, as a way of hearing planes far before you could see them. They’re effectiveness over time boils down their simplicity.
The passive disc-shaped structures work by reflecting and concentrating the sound waves coming from the planes, and using a single focal point, the operator can use a microphone and earphones to listen. The dimensions are matched to the sound waves created by aircraft engines in order to hone in on particular sounds.
Quecchia came across the defences on the album cover of a UK rock band, and then tracked down big concrete barriers on google maps. With just 13 of these concrete barriers remaining, he decided to showcase them in a photography project.
Working as an architect, he was able to appreciate the structures for their simplistic practicality,
“Photography for me is mainly a tool to understand and tell about reality. I mainly focus about architecture and social dynamics,” he explained.
“I’ve been always fascinated by abandoned buildings, especially in the changing of their role according to the different historical period.”
“The strong materiality of the concrete and their huge dimensions makes the sound mirrors spectacular and extremely fascinating structures, able to dominate the entire surrounding landscape,” he said.
What draws Quecchia to these structures is his fascination with how architecture reflects social history, which is a passion shared among fellow Italian photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego.
The three are working together on several projects, showing how the structures of the past are influencing the present-modern societies.
HEKKTA will be showcasing their project on Soviet architecture’s remains in Georgia next week.