Zadar’s Sound & Light

I came across this through the emerging Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung who exhibited with us at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) (where I’m Research Curator) last year. It shows a very unique sound-art installation on the cruiser port of the Croatian city of Zadar – sound and light – created from a sea organ.

Called an “orchestra of nature”, I immediately wondered why every coastline across the globe doesn’t have one of these…but perhaps that would make the world too noisy(?)…but then I like sound…a soundtrack…around me and to lead me, and much like the sky, to get lost in. 

The organ, which looks like an average set of steps from a distance, is seventy metres in length running along the Croatian coast. It is connected to the sea by 35 pipes of different lengths, diameters and tilts. As the waves push air through the labiums (whistles), it plays out 7 chords of 5 tones through the perforated stone stairs producing the sound you can hear in the film below. 

“An instrument with water as the musician, and no score.”

Next to the sea organ is ‘a salute to the sun’, a light installation that collects sunlight during the day and uses energy created by the sea organ, which is then released as light at night. Together, they create a focal point for the city that is like no other…and if you’re lucky enough to get a sunset as in the pictures below, it might be quite something…something that I’d definitely like to experience.

The sea organ and light installation was constructed as part of a project by architect Nikola Bašić with the help of Professor Vladimir Andročec (sea hydraulics consultant from the Zagreb Civil Engineering University), the pipes were made by Goran Ježina (Murter, a well-known organ art workshop), Heferer (Zagreb) made 35 labiums for every pipe, and it was tuned by professor Ivica Stamać (Zagreb).

Zadar 1
Zadar 2
Zadar 7
Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 22.28.38
Zadar 5
Zadar 4
Zadar 6
Zadar 7


  1. It’s great to see sound influencing architecture rather than the other way round. Imagine how rich our sonic landscape could be if we prioritised how structures sounded over how they looked.

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