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February 29, 2016

A boombox can change the world: Or Tarndanyangga at least

The three storey boombox in Victoria Square almost didn't happen.

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  • Words and some pictures: Joshua Fanning

The story behind the humungous boombox stage on the North side of the Royal Croquet Club comes spilling out of its creators almost before CityMag gets to ask a question.

While the sun recedes in the West, Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square) is aglow in orange hues and the atmosphere of a Friday evening, while the Royal Croquet Club’s Stuart Duckworth and Sam Weckert walk CityMag through their off-the-cuff idea to create a giant boombox capsule for the main stage.

Except it wasn’t supposed to be a giant boombox stage.

“It was a bit of a Zoolander moment… It needs to be at least three times as big!” – Sam Weckert


Simon Pearce, Sam Weckert & Stuart Duckworth

“One of our key collaborators, Geoff Cobham, had the idea to build a stage out of shipping containers,” says Stuart.

Stuart says everyone was excited when the idea was first mooted, however, four weeks out from launch, the logistics of shutting down Victoria Square traffic to crane in a dozen or so shipping containers started to seem a lot less exciting.

Back to the drawing board, Stuart started sharing some images that had originally inspired the Club’s design. One of those images was a picture from Burning Man.

“It was just this simple photo of a DJ inside a trailer that had been dressed up like a boombox,” says Stuart.

The next step was to call Frame Creative’s Tim and Simon Pearce.

Simon immediately started, what could arguably be, a designer’s best/worst dream: making a boombox as big as a house… in a week.

“When we got the first drawings back,” says Sam Weckert, “it was a bit of a Zoolander moment – it needs to be at least three times as big!

In fact the original idea Simon and Sam had in mind was to build the stage completely out of ply wood. All the components would be 3D, with oil drums mooted for volume nobs.

“I was in China at the time with fellow director (of Royal Croquet Club), Tom Skipper,” says Stuart giving context to the extra layer of pressure on this project.

“And I just asked Sam how long it would take to mill and cut a single sheet of ply. The numbers didn’t stack up,” says Stuart.

Sam still attests that he would have done it. But fortunately for everyone (but mostly Sam) the construction of the boombox ended up being executed by a printer.

“It’s the most original thing we’ve done since the first Royal Croquet Club – since the two huge cut-out croquet players,” says Stuart, “so it was bizarrely fitting that the local Adelaide company who printed them, printed the boombox for us too.”

“It’s a great little company in the city – just around the corner from Frame,” says Frame Creative’s Tim, “Print Graphic Displays.”

Indeed the story of the three-storey boombox is full of little efforts that pulled the giant project over the line. Each and everyone interviewed gave a cheer when someone mentioned Ben [Trusz] at Elite Scaffold.

“He’s a legend,” Simon said with the sort of finality that designers usually reserve for Dieter Rams.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.54.02 PM

Pictures of the Boombox Stage stolen from

Pictures of the Boombox Stage stolen from

Leko Novakovic from Novatech connected the stage’s sound system to a series of vertical light tubes arrayed across the top of the structure so that they would work as a functioning graphic equalizer – lights flashing in sync with the beats per minute below. An image straight out of the 90s.

“The weirdest and maybe the best one,” says Sam of the great list of collaborators, “was Councillor David Slama who helped build the stage. He rocked up and asked, ‘what do you want me to do?'”

Drawn at a 1:10 scale, completely in Adobe Illustrator, the boombox comes alive as the sun sets. In fact, Simon says he came down at this very time to look at the way the light hit Tarndanyangga so that the 2D finished product could get a lift from some shadowing around the boombox’s dials. It gives the whole project a simultaneously realistic and magical appearance.

Indeed it was prophesied in 2010 that a boombox could change the world. The one we’ve got in Victoria Square may not quite be doing that but, never-the-less, is a great reason to put on some fingerless gloves and dance.


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