We experience spaces not only by seeing but also by listening. Somewhere high on the moors looking over the town stands the ‘Singing Ringing Tree’.  It’s one of a series of four Panopticons, meaning a structure, space or device providing a comprehensive or panoramic view. The Singing Ringing Tree is a unique musical sculpture in the form of a wind-blown tree, designed by award-winning architects Tonkin-Liu. When the wind head west, the pipes emit an intriguing melodic sound, only to be heard at close range.







Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, the Singing Ringing Tree is a three metre tall construction comprising pipes of galvanised steel which embrace the energy of the wind to produce a slightly penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves. The harmonic and singing qualities of the tree were produced by tuning the pipes according to their length by adding holes to the underside of each.  If we go to a concert, the experience of the music depends on where we’re located in the back or in the front. Even if you go to a church, the acoustics of religious spaces have a symbolic meaning. Every environment has another aural architecture. The ‘Singing Ringing Tree’ is a good example of Aural Architecture.


The Panopticons are a unique series of 21st century landmarks, designed to attract visitors into the countryside to enjoy the stunning landscapes. Each Panopticon is situated on a high point site commanding spectacular views, and are all within easy reach of the M65 motorway. In 2007, the sculpture won along with 13 other candidates the National Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA, for architectural excellence.

Other Panopticons include Colourfields by Jo Rippon Architecture and artist Sophie Smallhorn in Blackburn’s Corporation Park; Atom by Peter Meacock, Katarina Novomestska and Architecture Central Workshop in Wycoller Country Park, Pendle; and Halo by John Kennedy and Landlab on Top o’ Slate above Haslingden in Rossendale.

Watch this documentary about ‘Singing Ringing Tree’