Tonkin Liu

Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree is aptly named. A 3-meter-tall, wind-powered musical sculpture made of galvanized steel pipes, it stands high above the English town of Burnley. The pipes swirl to form the shape of a tree bent and blown by the wind, and produce an eerie, melodious hum as the constant wind on Crown Point drifts through them. The Singing Ringing Tree’s pipes are used for both aesthetic qualities as well as for tuning, with their sound varied according to length and added narrow slits on the underside of specific pipes. The sound produced by these twisted metal trees covers several octaves and is said to be simultaneously discordant and melancholy, and intensely beautiful.

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Completed in 2006, the Tree was designed by award-winning architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu. The site at Burnley was once that of a re-diffusion transmission station, complete with a run-down brick building and unused telegraph lines. The station was dismantled and the lines cut down to be recycled, to make way for the Tree that was to stand out against the stark, rolling landscape of the Pennines.

In 2007, the sculpture won the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for architectural excellence.

The inspection of the above item was carried out on a very, blusterous windy and cold day. It was overcast with some sun occasionally breaking through. The views were breathtaking over Burnley and the nearby countryside.

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Four sets of five meter readings were taken on a callaborated elcometer. Two sets were taken on the north side and two on the south side. In general the appearance of the galvanizing was very good and very clean with no organic growth.

The fourth layer up from the bottom on the North side 6.3 mm thick tube had an average coating thickness of 88.9 microns, the local coating thickness was 76.1 microns. The fourth layer up from the bottom on the North side plate ring was 8mm thick had an average coating thickness of 161 microns and the local coating thickness was 152 microns.

The fourth layer up from the bottom on the South side 6.3 mm thick tube had an average coating thickness of 137 microns and the local coating thickness was 102 microns. The third layer up from the bottom on the North side plate ring 8mm thick had an average coating thickness of 180 microns and the local coating thickness was 174 microns.

From the results, the coating is in very good condition and survivng the elements well. It appears from the results than the North facing side of the Panopticon structure is corroding at a faster rate than the South facing.

Images © Gayle Knight and Mark Waters