"Sea Organ" Makes Haunting Music With Ocean Waves

linssimato/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Croatian architect Nikola Bašić has created a beautiful piece of architecture that merges the modern city with nature and playfulness.

His incredible “Sea Organ” graces the coast of Zadar in Croatia. The city was heavily bombed throughout the Second World War by British and American planes. As the war ended, a rushed reconstruction of the city took place, causing many of the once-loved spaces to enjoy the coast’s natural beauty to fall into neglect. Bašić wanted to design something that could bring life to the desolate concrete and return the creativity that the destruction of war lost.

The musical jetty was finished in 2005 and covers a stretch more than 70 meters (230 feet) long. The work was only made possible by drawing on experts from many different fields, from engineers, craftsmen, and even a professor of music who tuned the pipes correctly.

As varying strengths of waves and wind enter these spaces, air is pushed through a series of 35 polyethylene tubes of different diameters. At the end of each pipe is a whistle, tuned to play seven chords of five different tones. 

In 2006, the piece was the joint winner of the 2006 European Prize for Urban Public Space which described it as the “perfect grandstand for watching the sunset over the sea.”

This isn’t the first piece of urban design to integrate the rhythms of the seaside with architecture. Peter Richards and George Gonzalez designed a very similar piece, which they also called “The Wave Organ,” in the San Francisco Bay area in 1986.

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