Netherlands, Utrecht

A Crash Course in Urban Sound Design

when 1 August 2019 - 12 August 2019
language English
duration 2 weeks
fee EUR 850

Urban Sound Design is an emerging sub-discipline within urban planning and design that considers sound as an important qualitative aspect of the urban environment. It implies urban planning that results in an urban soundscape that is meaningful for a given location both in a spatial, temporal and cultural sense and in accordance with the activities in the area. It is a typical multi-disciplinary subject wich entails urban design, architecture, sound design, acoustics, semantics, perception, psychology, neuroscience, human geography anthropology and landscape architecture. This course forms a both theoretical and practical introduction into the discipline of Urban Sound Design.

Sound in public space is often approached as annoyance that should be abated.  Discussions about sound in our living environment tend to focus on the problematic and unwanted attributes, such as the noise of traffic and industry. Instead of tackling the problems of noise Urban Sound Design rather considers sound as one of the design parameters.   At best every urban design project should take account of the soundscape that proceeds from its design decisions. 
Many misconceptions arise from the unawareness of sound perception and how it influences how we experience our surroundings. Unconsciously sound can set the mood of a place and change its meaning. Additionally the existing sound can both facilitate and supplement the required activities at a certain location or, on the opposite, make them impossible. Activities themselves generate sounds that may or may not fit the area. Architects and city planners, who are taught to design in the three dimensions of space, often forget about the notion that we move through space in the fourth dimension, that of time. Sound supports the perception and understanding of time in the environment. The visual impressions of a location are enhanced by acoustic clues and the awareness of adjacent spaces and events can only become apparent through sound.
The course adresses all these issues and topics. Besides lectures on the theory and principles of urban sound, the program focuses on hands on experience with evaluation of the soundscape, through excursions,  and actual Urban Sound Design for a new development region in the center of the city of Utrecht. Participants will work in a small team on a design assignment, that builds on the obtained knowledge. One of the involved urban designers will give a guest lecture and an explanatory tour through the area. 
Course leaders are Hans Ophuis, landscape architect and urban designer, and Kees Went, composer and sound designer.

Course leader

Kees Went

Target group

The course is intended for (upcoming) sound designers and sound artists as well as for (upcoming) architects, urban designers and city planners. For urban designers and architects it is a way to expand their skills based on the prevailing view that all senses should be considered within design. For sound designers and sound artists it is an opportunity to develop themselves simultaneously into different working areas (from the current notion of a mixed design practice).

Fee info

EUR 850: Course fee
EUR 350: Housing fee

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