preloader imagepreloader imagepreloader imagepreloader imagepreloader imagepreloader imagepreloader imagepreloader image
View all news
Accessibility info Skip to content Start of content

Listening to space.

Space is aural. Architecture is about shaping space in a noisy world, so listen...

Architecture and sound inter-relate in:

  • musical proportion
  • architectural acoustics
  • sound in space.

What might an acoustically designed city be like? How might we design with our ears more alert than our eyes?

The start and end point is the human being. Who hears, feels, speaks, acts.

Sound is given to us, the city and all its various activities make their own sounds, and we are moulding and shaping them by enclosing bodies of air.

There are many potential sounds, pregnant to happen, which may or may not … we embrace chaos.

We are designing and inserting walls, floors and ceilings more reflective of sound than the best mirror can reflect light. In which territory one should tread knowingly. Architecture is so often conceived as a visual rather than a spatial art. The invisible acoustic dimension of space and activity can be overlooked. Today's listening agenda can be described as:

  • listening to space - the activities of a room or street and how the architecture shapes and modulates sound to create a healthy functioning environment
  • listening to users - their aspirations, views, and intelligence about a building, street or district, an essential prerequisite for making change.

The dimensions of space are audible.

The three 'Cartesian' dimensions of space are embodied in the labyrinth - our our sensory organs of balance - in the inner ears. To listen is to begin to understand not only space but also size, materials, activity and ambience, what is best now, what is most open to improvement, without constraint what users want, and what will work in new built spaces. Architecture is bruit reality - richer and deeper than designs on paper - whose deeper resonances link human experience through music to the natural cycles and vibrations of nature in inner and outer space.

Related Essays & Articles:
Urban Renewal through music – Sensuality and Proportion
Architectural Acoustics - an emerging course
The City as Music - Some Conceptual Tools
The University of Westminster
Sound Media Research Group (SMRG)
“Architecture as Interactive Music”
Wed 27th September 2000

Vibrations of a stretched string or enclosed column of air - the early harmonics.
Night traffic.