In the war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, a fight some of us equate to that between good and evil (depending on which brand of sugared water you swear by), Coca-Cola just pulled ahead (actually, it’s been pulling ahead for a while). The new Coca-Cola Beatbox, unveiled today in London’s Olympic Park, is a stunning combination of technology, sound, and light. Designed by Asif Khan and Pernilla Ohrstedt, the pavilion appears as a luminescent heap of white and red, electrifying viewers and pulling them in.
Once visitors are close enough to touch the pavilion, the fun really starts. Contact with any of the over two hundred interlocked air pillows causes them to emit a sound; these range from a short snippet of music to the squeak of sneakers on the basketball court. The various sounds add up to the Olympic song, ‘Anywhere in the World’, recorded by famous British producer Mark Ronson. Visitors progressively encounter more and more of these air cushions as they spiral up the pavilion to its roof deck, and with an estimated 200,000 people expected to make the 200 meter journey from base to top, there's unlimited possibilities for remixing. Having taken in the view from the top, visitors turn to descend into the pavilion’s interior, where an interactive installation by Jason Bruges Studio displays such pertinent data as the energy released when a Coke bottle is served.
The pavilion does raise questions about the importance of branding to events like the Olympics, and whether or not it is detrimental to the message of the international sporting competition, as well as to architecture. However, brand sponsorship of such projects has a long history, and one with often phenomenal results—who can forget Normal Bel Geddes’s General Motors Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair or Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis’s Philips Pavilion for Expo ’58 in Brussels?
Photo above by Getty Images