City Sounds 1.0

A community soundscape survey built into a games engine

The aim of the CitySounds survey was to investigate community attitudes to and awareness of a range of sounds in the Central Business District (CBD) of Melbourne.

The survey was designed to generate a cultural dialogue about the local soundscape by provoking in residents their thinking on listening, sound and urban environments.


The purpose of the survey was to provide Council with information to help with the development and implementation of noise management initiatives using:
• planning and design guidelines
• information campaigns for residents and general community
• better handling of complaints
• development of information for current and prospective residents on personal strategies for managing noise issues
• information campaigns for targeted industries, for example, entertainment, construction, retail
• design and management interventions affecting acoustic experience of the city
• other innovations identified from survey results.


A team comprising sound designers, 3D modelers, programmers and a social scientist, produced CitySounds. The project integrated three main digital assets, including a:
• 3D visual model of an indicative inner city Melbourne precinct, with a detailed urban soundscape
• embedded survey
• a technique to send survey results from users computers to host servers at RMIT


Respondents could navigate though the survey or be guided through the virtual environment and answer survey questions in pop-up windows at specific locations. At these locations, the sounds of the soundscape correlated to the survey questions of the location.

The survey contained around 40 questions and was completed by over 600 people. The development process of the survey and model took around 8 weeks, and the project was ‘live’ for 7 months. Around 600 people completed the 20 minute survey, generating 3,949 reportable results.

2003 – 2004

Project team:

Project Direction, Management and Lead Sound Design – Lawrence Harvey

Lead 3D and Visual Design – Foo Chi Sung

Lead Programming – Yamin Tengono

Survey Design – Lawrence Harvey, Kim Leong (Social Science & Planning), Russell Webster (Noise Unit, City of Melbourne)

Acoustic Consultant – Peter Dale, Applied Acoustics Group

Additional Sound Design – Jeffrey Hannam, Jerome Frumar, Boo Chapple, Yamin Tengono

Additional Visual Design – Dominik Holzer, Richard Le

Additional Programming – Budhi Prasetya

User Interface Design – Yamin Tengono, Foo Chi Sung