If you've been walking towards the entrance to Whangārei Central Library recently and thought you heard a noise nearby, chances are you were right.

A soundscape installation on the back of the Old Library has been turning heads, literally.

Speakers on the roof of the Old Library play a collection of sounds when sensors are triggered by people walking past.

Children from Sistema Whangārei came up with sounds that represented the space - they include voices, a horn and wind.


Sistema Whangārei's Fiona Douglas said the idea was to bring some life to the space.

"It's about people enjoying the space and just having something different in their day."

The project was funded by Creative Communities Whangārei. Today is the last chance to hear the interactive installation, from 8am to 8pm.

Neil Lambess thought it was cool to have ambient sound in the space behind the Old Library. Photo/John Stone
Neil Lambess thought it was cool to have ambient sound in the space behind the Old Library. Photo/John Stone

When the Northern Advocate visited on Monday, several people walking to and from the library thought the sounds added something to the space.

Neil Lambess said he had heard it earlier but didn't realise it was coming from the speakers, instead he thought it was coming from upstairs in the Old Library building.

"It's cool, having ambient sound."

He thought the horn sounded a bit like a whale.

Stella Lawrie thought it was lovely and added culture to Whangārei.

"It's nice to hear, it's welcoming."

Meanwhile Carmen Snelgar said it added something different to the experience.

"As you're heading to the library thinking about books, it opens your ears."

At first she thought the trees right next to the speakers were involved in generating the sounds somehow, like the trees "talking".

"It makes you turn your head, that's for sure."

A sign explains what is going on to passers-by. Kim Newall from AwhiWorld created the installation. AwhiWorld is production company that uses emerging technologies to create innovative, immersive and interactive site-specific experiences.

The sounds, recorded by Tim Bell from BellTech, are randomised so a new "performance" occurs every time the sensors are triggered.

Different combinations have been running at different times and the sounds have been designed to work together in spontaneous ways.