Hunting The Cockney Sparrow

Using reconfigured domestic furnishings, the project playfully invited the participation of visitors and passers-by to actively transform the nature of the public space through sound.

Bloomsbury Square Gardens
Bloomsbury Square Gardens
A playful invitation to participate

A treasure map downloaded from the RIBA website gave clues as to the final destination. The map employed Cockney rhyming slang to denote trail stops en route, giving a taste of this local dialect in danger of extinction, similar to the common sparrow.

The treasure map

The final destination led the visitor to the central square of Bloomsbury Square Gardens.  Here, the visitor was greeted by the original park benches, formally arranged in pairs of twos in each direction, but customised to become eight individual sound installations, broadcasting eight different radio stations via vintage brass gramophones.

The project represented part of a broader investigation into the role of public spaces today and raised questions as to the role of new technology and communication and in the age of personal wearable technology.

A playful invitation to participate
A playful invitation to participate
A playful invitation to participate

“Our goal was to transform how people socialise in public; the playful nature of the wind-up radios prompted new conversations and friendships.”

Juliet Quintero

The project was a collaboration with designer Umut Yamac and architect Manuel Irsara, funded by the RIBA and supported by the Bartlett School of Architecture.



Bloomsbury Square Gardens, London
London Architecture Week, 2006
Photography: Manuel Irsara