Workshop in Acoustic and Architecture

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Workshop in Acoustic and  Architecture

Fall Term 2007 – ARCC 4102 Acoustics – Room 410 AA – Class time: Tuesdays 2:30-5:30

School of Architecture

Carleton University

Federica Goffi

Office 412 Architecture Building

Telephone 520-2600 ext. 2878

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

(Epictetus, Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135)

In order to enhance a fully embodied experience of architecture beyond the mere concerns of ‘likeness’ (visual dimension of architectural design) one has to be concerned with the true ‘presence’ of architecture, i.e. the complex wired experience of visual, tactile, olfactory and aural stimuli. The ‘dominance of image’ as the only legitimate way to generate design ideas should be challenged by undermining the very notion that architectural design is concerned with a portrayal of ‘likeness’, restoring its full potential to engage our senses synesthetically, being concerned with the ‘sensuous presence’ of human inhabitation.
This workshop focuses on the design of aural architecture. The design of aural architecture entails not just an understanding of the engineering and physics of sound, i.e. the behavior of sound waves, room acoustics design criteria, etc. but also insight into the broader phenomenon of auditory and spatial awareness, i.e. the question of perception of sound. The focus then is not just on a mathematical quantification of sound and design but on the experience of space by ‘listening’ to it. The key question in our design process is how a listener experiences space and how he is affected by it.
Moving across disciplines, cultures, and time periods this workshop intends to contribute to building the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for the design of ‘aural’ architecture, i.e. to create a ‘listening’ experience of architecture beyond the merely visual. Architecture is understood here as a ‘BODY OF RESONANCE’ i.e. a vessel, which ‘produces’ sound by impacting the way sound is diffused, resonated, amplified within it.

Workshop Objectives

This workshop will raise the student’s awareness of the possibility to design with sound. The workshop is intended to help the student build their theoretical knowledge pertaining the field of aural architecture. The students will develop an ability to formulate cohesive theoretical propositions, which will be demonstrated both visually and verbally.

This workshop aims at providing the students with critical knowledge regarding the aural dimension of architecture. ‘SOUND’ and the way we listen to a space, i.e. how we experience it acoustically, is an essential and undervalued part of the design process and of experiencing architecture.
The design issues related to the concept of ‘listening’ to an architectural space will be discussed from both historical and theoretical points of view, improving the students ability to think critically on these issues. Case studies which enlighten the way in which sound characterizes built space, will be discussed covering a broad-spectrum of architectural history up to the modern and contemporary period.

Workshop Description

The workshop will provide an introduction to the engineering and physics of sound focusing particularly on the production of sound within enclosed space, addressing questions of sound control in buildings, the property of materials in relationship to sound absorption / reflection, and noise control. Acoustic measurements and instrumentation will also be discussed.

During the course of the workshop the students will be asked to design a piece of ‘aural architecture’ starting from an analysis of a piece of music which will be randomly assigned. The design process starts with an analysis of the musical piece and composer musical theory. The question is then to design an architectural space, which will allow experiencing that musical composition. The students are asked to make a design proposition based on their imagination of where the piece is being played and for what event. The design will be developed through acoustic models, drawings, writings, etc.
Design Method: Designing from the parts to the whole

The students will be asked to design from the “details” to the whole reversing the more traditional design approach where details are the last step in a process where the starting point is the organization of the overall space, i.e. the drawing of a plan. This approach is based on the idea that the quality of a design lies in the production of good architectural details.

Details are much more than subordinate elements; they can be regarded as the minimal units of signification in the architectural production of meaning. These units have been singled out in spatial cells or in elements of composition, in modules or in measures, in the alternating of void and solid, or in the relationship between inside and outside. The suggestion that the detail is the minimal unit of production is more fruitful because of the double-faced role of technology, which unifies the tangible and the intangible of architecture.

Marco Frascari, The Tell-Tale Detail 1984

The employment of this design method allows us to explore the role of details as generators of architectural meaning. The students will be asked to design a selected number of the key architectural details of the building undergoing renewal.

Week 1. Sept 11th Introduction to the Workshop

Introduction to the concept of aural architecture

Workshop philosophy and methods

‘Listening’ to space (i.e. sensing space through listening)

Itl. Sentire / to listen and to feel

Required Readings #1
Ch. 2 ‘Fundamentals’ (pp. 27-35) in: Charles Salter. Acoustics, Architecture, Engineering, the Environment, William Stout Publishers, San Francisco, 1998.
Calvino, Italo. Under the Jaguar Sun. Little Stories about Sound, Harvest Book, 1990.
Week 2. Sept 18th Sound Architecture and the Architecture of Sound

The engineering and physics of sound

Acoustic properties of materials

Reflection of Sound Rays

Reverberations and Echoes

Sound Absorption

Operational Sounds

Architectural Acoustics versus Aural architecture / Measuring acoustic parameters versus feeling space

Introduction to the semester’s assignment:

Design of a piece of aural architecture based on a musical piece from the following list. The pieces will be assigned randomly.

  • Luigi Nono’s ‘Prometeo’ 1984

  • Edgar Varese’s "Poem Electronique," premiered at the World's Fair 1958

  • Arnold Schonberg’s ‘Transfigured night’ 1899

  • John Cage’s Euroceras 3 & 4 (commissioned by the Almeida Music Festival and Modus Vivandi Foundation in 1990)

  • Antonio Vivaldi, Le Quattro stagioni, four violin concertos, 1723 (Baroque music)

  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B Minor (1749) (Baroque era)

  • Wolfgang Mozart: Don Giovanni (1787) (Baroque era)

  • Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata (1853) Opera

  • Benjamin Britten: Turn Of The Screw (1954)

  • Gianfrancesco Malipiero: Torneo Notturno (1929)

  • Gustav Mahler: Symphony 10 (1911)

  • Anton Webern: String Trio Opus 20 (1927)

  • Iannis Xenakis: Metastasis (1954)


Research and documentation:

The students are asked to ‘listen’ to and research the musical piece and composer theory assigned. The research should investigate also aspects pertaining the aural architecture of spaces appropriate to the performance of that musical piece, with particular attention to materials used, geometry and dimensions.

Listening to space:

Makeup of a ‘Soundscape notebook’

The students are asked to document throughout the semester their experience of particular ‘soundscapes’ in enclosed spaces through vertical and horizontal drawings sections. Through the notebook the students will analyze and learn to represent visually ‘aural-architecture’ by documenting their acoustic experience of space. Your ‘visual recording’ of the aural experience can be documented by making notes of space measurements, building materials and architectural details, and a verbal description of the perceived sounds/space.

Required Readings
Baumann Dorothea. Geometrical Analysis of Acoustical Conditions in San Marco and San Giorgio Maggiore (pp. 117-143) in Moretti. Architettura e Musica nella Venzia del Rinascimento, Convegno Internazionale, Bruno Mondadori, 2006. (Chapter on the Basilica of Saint Mark)
Salter, Charles. Acoustics, Architecture, Engineering, the Environment, William Stout, 1998 (Chapter 6: Room Acoustics)

Week 3. Sept 25th Room Acoustic

Anechoic Chamber

Design criteria

Basic Principles of room acoustics: reflected sound, diffusion, echoes, reverberation

Define your design statement and building’s program. Research the ‘Soundscape’ of the selected building program and define your own soundscape by discovering its ‘keynote sounds’, ‘signals’ and ‘soundmarks’.

Choice of building programs:

Private home



Monastery / Contemplation space / Sacred space
Reading Assignment:

Murray Shafer. The Soundscape, Destini Books, 1977. (pp. 7-10; 205-262)

Week 4. Oct 2nd Soundscapes

Church acoustics

Auditorium Acoustics

Sketches / Drawings of the proposed design (vertical and horizontal sections)

Required Readings

Vitruvius part on theater design

Week 5. Oct 16th Acoustic Drawings and Models

Drawing Acoustics: notational systems

Geometrical Room Acoustics

Analogical Architectural Models for Acoustics:

Water ripple models

Light beam Method

Synesthesia and acoustics


The students are asked to ‘model’ the key aural space of their design (model scale 1:50) and test it with the ‘water ripple’ method

Week 6. Oct 23rd 1st review of overall design

Pin Up of the design work and presentation of design research and statement

Week 7. Oct 30th Wired senses

Synesthesia: the wiring of vision and sound

Multi-sensory seeing (Blesse, Barry 2006 p.49)

Echolocation: seeing in the dark

Week 8. Nov 6th Acoustical Design

In class desk crits

Week 9. Nov 13th Acoustical design

In class desk crits

Week 10. Nov 20th Acoustical Design

In class desk crits

Week 11. Nov 27th Acoustical Design

In class desk crits

Week 12. Dec 4th? Final review of projects

Final Pin up and presentation of drawings

General Bibliography
Ackerman, Diane. A Natural History of the Senses, Vintage Books, 1990.

Alberti, Leon Battista. On the Art of Building in Ten Books, translated by Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach, Robert Tavernor, MIT Press, 1997.

Alton Everest, Frederick. Master Handbook of Acoustics, McGraw Hill, 2000.

Bandur, Markus. Aesthetics of Total Serialism: Contemporary Research from Music to Architecture, Birkhauser, 2001.

Belton, John & Elisabeth Weis, eds. Film Sound: Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Beranek, Leo. Concert Halls and Opera Houses: Music, Acoustics, and Architecture, Springer, 2003.

Behnke, Elizabeth A. Toward a Description of Integral Atonality, Integrative Explorations, in Journal of Culture and Consciousness, Feb. 1993, v. 1, n.1, pp.1-15.

Bernsen, Jens. Sound in Design, Danish Design Center, 1999.

Blesser, Barry & Linda-Ruth Salter. Spaces Speak, Are you listening?, The MIT Press, 2007.

Brooks Christopher N. Architectural Acoustics, Mc Farlan & Company Publishers, 2003.

Brougher, Kerry, Jeremy Strick, Ari Wiseman, Judith Zilczer, Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900.

Bull, Michael & Les Back. The Auditory Cultural Reader, Berg, 2003.

Burnett, C., Fend M., Gouk P. The Second Sense: Studies in Hearing and Musical Judgement from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century, London, University of London, 1991.

Cage, John. Silence: Lectures and Writings, Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961.

Calvino, Italo. Under the Jaguar Sun. Little Stories about Sound, Harvest Book, 1990.

Cavanaugh, William. Architectural Acoustics, Principles and Practice, John Wiley & Sons. Available online at:,M1

Chion, Michel. Audio-Vision, Columbia University press, 1994.

Classen, C. Worlds of Sense: Exploring the senses in History and Across Cultures. New York, Routledge, 1993.

Cox, Trevor & Peter D’Antonio. Acoustics Absorbers and Diffusers: Theory, Design and Application, Taylor & Francis, 2004.

Cytowic, Richard. Synesthesia, A Union of the Senses, Springler-Verlag, 1989.

De Benedectis, Angela Ida & Veniero Rizzardi. Nono, Luigi. Scritti e colloqui, Milano, Ricordi-Lim, Milano, 2001.

Frascari, Marco. Architectural Synaestesia: A Hypothesis on the makeup of Scarpa’ Modernist Architectural Darwings. Available onlilne at :

Forsyth, Michael. Buildings for Music, Mit Press, 1985.

Forsyth, Michael. Auditoria, Designing for the performing Arts, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1987.

Goffi, Federica. Carlo Scarpa and the Eternal Canvas of Silence, in ARQ, vol. 10, n. 3/4, 2006 pp. 291-300., Deborah and Laura

Hauser, M. The Evolution of Communication, Cambridge, MIT press, 1977.

Hunt, Frederick. Origins in Acoustics: The Science of Sound from Antiquity to the Age of Newton, Yale University Press, 1978.

Hawkes, Dean. Thawing Goethe: Musical Connections, in Scroope Eighteen, Cambridge Architectural Journal, pp. 74-83.

Ihde, Don. Listening and Voice. A Phenomenology of Sound, Ohio University press, 1976.

Kandinsky, Wassily. Sounds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.

Kish, D. Echolocation: How humans can ‘see’ without sight, (2001). Available at:

Kish, D. and Bleier H. Echolocation: what it is and how it can be taught and learned. Available at:

Leitner, Bernard. ‘Sound:Space’, Cantz Verlag, 1998.

Levin, Flora R. The Manual of Harmonics of Nicomachus the Pythagorean, Phanes Press, 1993.

Long, Marshall. Architectural Acoustics, Academic Press, 2006.

Lord, Peter & Duncan Templeton. Detailing for Acoustics, Taylor & Francis, 1995.

Martin, Elizabeth. Architecture as a Translation of Music, Princeton, 1994.

Moretti. Architettura e Musica nella Venzia del Rinascimento, Convegno Internazionale, Bruno Mondadori, 2006.

Meyer-Baer, Kathi. Music of the Spheres and the Dance of Death, Studies in musical Iconology, Princeton University Press, 1970.

Merleau-Ponti, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, 1962.

Merleau-Ponti, Maurice. The Visible and the Invisible, Northwestern University Press, 1968.

Mille, Olivier. Archipel Luigi Nono, (SW3, Artline Production/La Sept) 1988. [Archivio Luigi Nono, VHS call number: 25-1].

Jaworski, Adam. Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives, de Gruyter, 1997.

Pallasma, Juhani. The eyes of the skin, Architecture and the senses, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2005

Petrilli, Amedeo. Acustica e Architettura, Spazio Suono Armonia in Le Corbusier, Marsilio, 2001.

Plack, Christopher. The sense of Hearing, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, London, 2005.

Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. Experienceing Architecture, chapter X: ‘Hearing Architecture’, MIT Press, 1959. Available online at:,M1

Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Architecture & Music, Seven sites for music from the Ircam in Paris to the Auditorium in Rome, Edizioni Lybra Immagine, 2002.

Rindel, Jens Holger, Modeling in Auditorium Acoustics, from Ripple Tank and Scale Models to Computer Simulation, Available at:, Accessed: August 7, 2007.

Sacks, Oliver. The mind’s eye: What the blind see, in New Yorker, July 28, 2003 pp. 48-59.

Shafer, Murray. The Tuning of the World, Random House,1977.

Smith, Mark Michael. Hearing History, A Reader, University of Georgia Press, 2004.

Stein, Barry, Meredith M. The merging of the senses, MIT Press, 1993.

Stein, Barry. The handbook of multisensory processing, MIT Press, 2004.

Tati, Jacques. Play Time 1967.

Thompson, Emily. The Soundscape of Modernity, MIT, 2002. Available online at:,M1

Treib, Marc. Space Calculated in Seconds, Princeton University Press, 1996.

Varese, E. Spatial Music, in: E. Schwartz and B. Childs, Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, Da Capo Press, 1998.

Veit, Erlmann. Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity, Berg Publishers, 2004.

Vergo Peter. That Divine Order, Music and the Visual Arts from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century, Phaidon Press, 2005.

Vitruvius. De Architectura, The Ten Books on Architecture, Dover Publications, 1960.

Wolvin, Andrew and Carolyn Gwynn Coakley. Perspectives on Listening, Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1993.

Zuckerkandl, Victor. Sound and symbol, Music and the external world, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1969 [1956].

Zvonar, Richard. A history of Spatial music, Available at:
Bibliography on Building Materials:

Acoustic insulation materials:

Arad, Ron. Metal: Materials for inspirational design, Rotovision, 2004.

Bell, Victoria Ballard. Materials for design, Princeton Architectural press, 2006.

Beylerian, George M., & Andrew Dent. Material ConneXion: the global resource of new and innovative materials for architects, artists, designers. John Wiley& Sons., New Jersey, 2005.

Brookes Alan J. and Dominique Poole. Innovation in architecture, London ; New York : Spon Press, 2004.

Brownell, Blaine. Transmaterial, Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.

Ford, Edward. The Details of Modern Architecture, vol. 1, vol. 2, The MIT Press, 1990.

Kaltenbach, Frank. Translucent Materials: glass, plastics, metals, 2004.

Leatherbarrow, David. The roots of architectural invention: site, enclosure, materials, Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Lefteri Chris. Wood: Materials for inspirational design, Rotovision, 2004.

Lefteri Chris. Plastic: Materials for inspirational design, Rotovision, 2004.

Lefteri Chris. Plastics 2: Materials for inspirational design, Rotovision, 2004.

Lefteri Chris. Ceramics: Materials for inspirational design, Rotovision, 2004.

Lupton, Ellen. Skin. Surface, substance and design, Princeton Architectural press, 2002.

Materio. Material World 2: Innovative Materials for Architecture and Design, Birkhauser, 2007.

McQuaid, Matilda. Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance, Princeton Architectural press, New York, 2005.

Mori, Toshiko. Immaterial/Ultramaterial : architecture, design, and materials

Braziller, 2002.

Riera Ojeda, Oscar. Materials, Gloucester, Mass. : Rockport , c2003.

Weston, Richard. Materials, Form and Architecture, Yale Univerisyt Press, 2003.

Workshop Grading

For the grade in the “A” range, the instructor will have judged the student to have satisfied the stated objectives of the course in an outstanding to excellent manner; for the “B” range, in an above average manner; for the “C” range, in an average manner with C- being the lowest acceptable grade in the Program’s Core courses; for the “D” range, in the lowest acceptable manner in non-Core courses, and for “F”, not to have satisfied the stated objectives of the course. Grades will be assigned as A+ (90-100%), A (85-89%), A- (80-84%), B+ (77-79%), B (73-76%), B- (70-72%), C+ (67-69%), C (63-66%), C- (60-62%), D+ (57-59%), D (53-56%), D- (50-52%), F (0-49%) and ABS. A grade of C- or better in each course of the Architecture Core is required for a student to remain in Good Standing. (Please refer to the Calendar (page 56) for regulations concerning grades, appeals and other program requirement information.)

Each grade will be based upon a comparison (1) with other students in the course and/or (2) with students who have previously taken the course and/or (3) with the instructor’s expectations relative to the stated objectives of the course, based on his/her experience and expertise.
Readings and participation in class discussion 15%

Research on musical precedent, analysis and presentation 15%

Soundscape notebook 15%

Project (drawings, models, writing, presentation):

1st pin up 25%

2nd and final pin up 35%

Student Conduct

Please refer to page 61 of the 2007-2008 Undergraduate Calendar for specific information regarding Student Conduct and Academic Integrity standards.

Academic Accommodations for students

You may need special arrangements to meet your academic obligations during the term because of disability, pregnancy or religious obligations. Please review the course outline promptly and write to me with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist.

It takes time to review and consider each request individually, and to arrange for accommodations where appropriate. Please make sure you respect these timelines particularly for in-class tests, midterms and final exams, as well as any change in due dates for papers.
You can visit the Equity Services website to view the policies and to obtain more detailed information on academic accommodation at

Students with disabilities requiring academic accommodations in this course are encouraged to contact a coordinator at the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities to complete the necessary letter of accommodation. After registering with the PMC, make an appointment to meet and discuss your needs with me at least two weeks prior to the first in-class test or midterm exam. This is necessary in order to ensure sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements. Please note the following deadlines for submitting completed forms to the Paul Menton Centre: November 9th for fall and fall/winter courses, and March 14th for winter term courses.


Carleton¹s B.A.S./M.Arch. Programme is reviewed for accreditation by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board. This status undergoes continual review in order that the university program provides the minimum standards for professional licensure. With this in mind, aspects of this course’s objectives and approach integrate some of the 37 "Student Performance Criteria" set by the CACB. The most recent edition of the "Guide to Student Performance Criteria" is available from the main office.

On Studio and, where appropriate, Workshop course outlines, the following, in addition to the above, should appear on course outlines:
Studio projects will be evaluated on the (1) strength of design concept/concepts, (2) development and articulation of the concept according to the objectives set forth in the project assignment, and (3) the clarity, craft and completeness of the work submitted at the hand-in deadline.
Spray painting with aerosol spray paints, fixatives and adhesives will not be accepted on ANY student work. Student work using aerosol spray paints, fixatives, and adhesives will not be evaluated.
All extension cords should be CSA approved. Extension cords that do not meet CSA standards will be confiscated.
RETENTION OF WORK (from University Undergraduate Calendar, page 85)

Keeping a good portfolio is a most important part of architectural education. A portfolio represents a record of the student’s progress and design experience over the years. It is an indispensable requirement for any job application in the future. A portfolio is started in first year and continues to expand until graduation. The School, therefore, requires that each student produce reductions (normally 8 ½ x 11 inch reproductions, colour or black and white, slides, and/or digital format CD) of their work at the end of each term. One copy of the work should be put in the student’s portfolio and the other turned in to the instructor for retention in the School’s archives. (This facilitates retrospective exhibitions of work, accreditation, publications and any future references for pedagogic purposes.) Original work is the property of the students, but the School retains the right to keep work of merit for up to two years after the date of submission. The School will make every effort to preserve the work in good condition, and will give authorship credit and take care of its proper use.

Health and Safety Regulations for the School of Architecture.

 No Smoking  No Flammable or Combustible Solvents, Paints, Gases or other Products

 No Aerosol or Pressurized Containers  No Power Tools  No Soldering  No Bicycles  No Open

Flames  No Toxic Chemicals  Avoid Creating Tripping Hazards  Avoid Creating Fire Hazards

 Keep Aisles, Walkways, Corridors, Doorways, Stairwells and Fire Hose Cabinets clear at all times.

 Avoid Working Alone After Hours  Avoid Creating Excessive Dust and Noise

In Case of Emergency, Dial Extension 4444 from any Studio phone.
First Aid is available in the Main Office (Room 202) or Workshop (Room 220) between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. First Aid Kits are available throughout the School.

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