The giant musical wall that makes you want to find your marbles

Can walls be musical instruments? Yes - if you add marbles.

There were a lot of cool things at the 2016 Best Design Awards. Giant, LED-lit cycleways. A web application that can track the usage of Te Reo Māori. Shoes made of wool. But for all the interesting innovations, perhaps among the most interesting – and certainly most unique – was a giant marble wall that played music.

Seriously.

This requires a bit of an explanation. An eight-metre-long double-sided steel wall activated through a network of magnetic parts which can be configured to build custom marble runs by each participant, POP Marble Run is part interactive innovation, part piece of art. The wall plays a spectrum of unique sounds through a speaker system built into the wall, with different sounds playing as a marble drops from one section to the next. The end result is a large participatory musical instrument activated by visitors.

Created by Dean Poole, Dean Murray, Aarron Edwards, Adam Ben-Dror, Clark Bardsley of Alt Group – with contributions from Design 360 and SJD – for the Auckland Council, the interactive wall proved to be a hit when it was installed in the City of Sails’ Karanga Plaza this past July. In two weeks, more than 10,000 people checked it out.

Alt Group’s Poole – who won the highly prestigious John Britten Black Pin award at the 2010 Best Design Awards – and his team have compared the creation of the project to making an oversized arcade game, with all the retro funk-itude associated therein. It’s using new school tech to create an old school experience. The judges noticed, too: it won the Graphics Purple Pin at this year’s Best Design Awards.

Add the fact Alt Group won more awards in total than any other organsiation at this year’s awards, and it sounds like things are really rolling along.