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The acoustic city


  • Prof. Matthew Gandy (Geography)

Main collaborator:

  • Prof. Kate Jones (Genetics, Evolution & Environment)

Additional Collaborators

  • Benny Nilsen (Swedish sound artist)

This project will result in a book entitled “The acoustic city” based on collaborative work by Matthew Gandy and the Swedish sound artist Benny Nilsen who is currently the Leverhulme funded artist-in-residence at the UCL Urban Laboratory. Kate Jones brings expertise on the sonic ecology of bats, animal soundscapes, and the wider impacts of sound on urban bio-diversity.

The book will consist of a series of cutting-edge essays on sound and the city covering fields such as acoustic ecology, architectural design, musicology, noise abatement, sound mapping, and urban nature. The authors will comprise leading experts in the field drawn from a range of different disciplines, along with work by graduate students exploring sound or soundscapes in their research. 

There will be five thematic interdisciplinary areas, involving staff and graduate students at UCL as well as other institutions:

  1. Sound mappings including cartographic approaches to the representation of soundscapes
  2. Sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound (e.g. Berlin in the 1970s or Osaka in the 1980s)
  3. Acoustic flânerie and recoding urban sounds, including bats, birds and urban nature, as well as reflections on the "auditory self" with links to cultural history and literary theory
  4. Acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design
  5. Politics of sound extending to human well-being, noise abatement, and the changing characteristics of urban environments and ambient sound. 

A key innovation will be a CD accompanying the book that will include a variety of works from Benny’s residency at UCL as well other key examples of recent sound art such as Thomas Ankeschmidt, Ekkehard Ehlers and T.M. Schneider (with whom we already have contacts). I already have experience with multimedia research outputs through my AHRC funded film Liquid city and earlier artist-in-residence collaborations.