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:: Saturday, August 08, 2009 ::

Sonic Architecture

Positive use of sound is a hot topic in acoustics at the moment. I attended the Institute of Acoustics conference on Soundscapes at RIBA HQ last year. The day was intended to ignite some debate over a single controversial sentence that may or may not make it into the final version of the governments Planning Policy Statement 24: Noise (PPS24) when it's finally published. The issue at hand was whether all noise is bad noise and the lower the background noise is the better, the old view as espoused by the current Planning Policy Guidance 24: Noise (PPG24).

You'd think this was a stupid point, but within the field it's a difficult one to address. The danger is that if you say that some masking noise may be good to help drown out another more annoying noise where do you stop? And how long will it be before every developer just plonks a water feature in the middle of every development?

The importance of the debate was nicely set-up by RIBA President Sunand Prasad, of Penoyre & Prasad Architects. He has a keen understanding of acoustics beyond that of an add on service as it is seen by many in architects. It was great to get involved in the debate as opinion is hotly divided between the "experts" probably as much as it would be between random people asked on the street.

As an musician / artist as well as an acoustic consultant I love the idea of using ambient sounds to enhance an environment. It's like taking what Eno did with Music for Airports to a new level. Music for Housing Estates. Or even Music for Cities.

With this in mind it was interesting to come across Mark Bain's Sonic Architecture (Sonarchitecture) essay, referenced in the BLDG Blog book. The text (Word doc) is here.
From Earshot No 3, Journal of Soundscape, Nov 2002, UK

The website and some photos from the Tunes City - Symposium and more from Google

The City of Sound website is also well worth a browse.

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