Adaptive Soundscapes

What does the wall think it is??

Adaptive Soundscapes

Usually when we think about the sound of a built environment, we see it as an interplay between materiality of the environment and dynamic forces acting upon it.  Materials are usually thought to be passive sound articulators with certain physical characteristics, which make them resonate and sound in a certain, pre-specified way. Architectural acoustics are on the side of optimization,  selecting the “right” materials for the purpose and arranging them in the “right” way. Let’s invert this story!

What if our real-world materials could sound, not just as they are physically encoded, but how ever we wanted them to sound? What if stone could sound like wood, or a glass plate as a metal string? Can we design our buildings to sound different in the morning than in the evening? Can the sound of our buildings be adaptive? The answer is – yes!

The goal of this class is to teach you the concepts and technology to design adaptive soundscapes: Sound waves and analogue-to-digital (A/D and D/A) conversion; Ambisonics (a multi-channel audio array) to move a sound source through a fictive room; Audio transducers, to extend or change the sound of matter; Contact microphones or piezo elements to hear the smallest nuances of matter, record it and dope them electronically afterwards; Hydrophones to record sounds under water; Transparent sound film to create new kind of speakers; Ultrasonic sound-beams to define who gets to hear something and who doesn’t; Kinect cameras to track the movements and usage of spaces; At the end, we will learn how to design interfaces on our tablets to transform our sonic environments.

In this course we will be using Max/MSP as audio programming software, as well as Processing for general programming. Those who are already familiar with Max/MSP and Processing – or are interested in learning it – are very welcome to participate in the programming part. For all others, we provide some stand-alone applications as working templates. Besides motivation, there are no prerequisites for the technical part of this course.


number max. 20 / min. 10 motivated students
dates Mondays, 15:00 – 17:00
introduction 23.09.2013
place Chair for CAAD, HPZ, Floor F unless announced differently
tutors Nikola Marincic, Thomas Schmalfeldt