The Future Sound of Cities

re-sounding the urban environment

The Future Sound of Cities was a joint virtual design studio with the University of Auckland, using gaming technologies to investigate sound as a conceptual medium within architecture and design.

Historical envisioning of future soundscapes – whether Marinetti’s Futurism, or Bacon’s utopian vision of sound houses – relied on text as the medium of realisation, and the aural imagination of the reader. Utilising the StringCVE software environment, a suite of sound design tools and spatial sound technologies, participants realised sounding models of speculative virtual acoustic environments.

These speculative environments for immersive sound technologies investigated human aural experience within urban acoustic environments, using ‘actuality’ from, and enhanced audio for, those environments. The iterative translation between the virtual and the actual was further investigated as a mode of learning, and research for design.

Mixed use of city spaces is again emerging as a contentious issue in Melbourne. A State Government task force at the time was reviewing a series of resident complaints’ about amplified music from nightclubs and pubs in Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs. It is a complex issue intersecting popular musical practices, cultural expectations, planning regulations, existing built conditions and use of amplification technologies.

Participants in the course produced 3D real-time models in the StringCVE games engine. The models proposed designs of spaces, experiences, and management strategies from an aural centric view of urban environments. It was envisioned that these projects will consider domestic, commercial, entertainment, cultural, recreational, educational or even aural follies, as the focus of their enquiry. Further, projects investigated spaces where new relationships between performance, listening and aural experience might reside. Central to these investigations, will be the experience of a listener within these environments.

Lecturers: Jules Moloney & Lawrence Harvey