The sense of hearing is highly important to the way that we experience and perceive the spaces
around us. Though we are not as reliant upon our sense of hearing as bats, for example, it is used to position us within space. It also allows us to create strong memories of the spaces that we’ve inhabited. I have fond memories of laying on my grandmother’s porch, hearing rain pound on the tin roof. That space and time is ingrained into my memory, and comes back to me whenever I hear the familiar ping-ping-pinging.
Room Tone (18 sounds in 6 models) is a project by the artist Brandon Labelle. He recorded sounds of his apartment, and sent the audio to 6 architects located around the world. The task for these architects was to create a model of his apartment based on the sounds that they were supplied. The project speaks to what we all know, but rarely think about: that sound is directly influenced and shaped by space and material. The project reveals how imagination and memory is utilized to feed back from auditory experience, and also how our experience of sound and space is changed by our everyday experiences.
Sound is directly affected by the walls designed, the materials chosen for the space, the hollows and relationship of materials to one another. Yet unless designing a concert hall or meeting room, sound is very rarely considered. And when it is, the goal is always the same: to deaden it. Yet sound is inherent to how people experience and understand space, whether we realize it or not. Memory of a space could be made richer by the consideration of sound within design.