Great Court British Museum
This place has a remarkable acoustic which complements the beautiful architecture. Opened in 2000, it’s the largest covered public square in Europe . The court wraps around the circular central reading room, providing a huge circulation space with cafes, information points and shops. The sound of people talking and walking echoes throughout the space. The soundscape is a cacophony of indistinct speech and other blurred sounds.
Large reverberant spaces are familiar to us all, but the sheer size of the Great Court along with the number of people creating the sound, makes this space ear-conic. The only downside to the great sound effect is that it makes conversations difficult to hold in the cafes – as I found out when I foolishly tried to hold a business meeting in the court.
Incidentally, audio nerds can also wander around and look for the Intellivox loudspeakers; an interesting technology which attempts to make public address announcements intelligible in cavernous spaces.
Recordings struggle to capture the soundscape, but hopefully this video might give you some sense.
Location & Logistics
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. Map. Can only be visited when the museum is open. The Great Court is free to enter. Most impressive when busiest (weekends, school holidays etc.)