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(19-20) Sonic Urbanism Studio_L28

Titular: Prof. Dr. Burak Pak
Teachers: Prof. Dr. Burak Pak – Caroline Claus
Academic year 2019-20
Engagement: Urban Cultures

I. Studio_L28 as Critical Spatial Practice[1]

Understanding the open space of an urban railway area in transition as a discontinuum of sonic and vibrational possibilities determined by more actants than human sounds, encouraged a revision of dominant sonic approaches, method and tools used in the urban design process as we know it. A decentering of the human sense and perspective seems to have implications for the urban design it constrains.

“For as long as recording and communication technologies have existed, the potential of the vibrational continuum that connects sound to infrasound, ultrasound, and other inaudible frequencies has been evoked to access anomalous zones of transmission between the realm of the living and the dead.”[2]

What trans-disciplinary design perspective is needed to create the portals to these new dimensions, how does a non-human thinking serve to activate (non) human agency in a context of infrastructural transformation?

Following Goodman[3] in his theoretical work on sonic warfare, we suggest adopting Augoyard and Henri Torgue’s sonic ecology for our practice-based research project on a critical sonic urbanism. From a questioning of the ontological turn in sound studies the research focuses on the following positions and propositions:

  • human and non-human actants co-constitute a discontinuum of sonic and vibrational possibilities,
  • a critical sonic urbanism necessitates an a-disciplinary rethinking of sonic methods and forms,
  • (sonic) vibrations as design material open up to a re-negotiation of urban transition.

The studio concentrates less on formalistic urban architecture then on a possible intervening in the agency, the experience of formal-mechanic dimensions of urban sonic vibrations as a source for a re-negotiating of urban transformation. By re-negotiation we mean a re-purposition of sonic spatial relations that are capable of getting new socio- (political) encounters off the ground. Rather than demanding students to use a ready-made formalistic approach to the design process, emphasizing physic acoustics, the exercise is about the search for, and the amplification of tensions between intuitive, sensible and semantic components of urban sound and the disinterested, de-semantified and purely formal elements of urban architecture or urban design on the other. Urban architecture is understood as an articulation of these relations through the development of a method and tools for urban architectural design, hereby facilitating a possible (re-) negotiating urban transition manifested in new sonic forms.

Working and reflecting in the bordering zones of sound art, urban architecture and urbanism, the research project evolved to become a critical spatial practice that we gave the provisional name Studio_L28.

Studio_L28 is conceived as a practice for counteracting situations in the L28 planning process where sonic awareness and sound design strategies are limited to noise control. To break free from prevailing modes of urbanism and urban architecture which typically focus on sonic risk and vibrational nuisance, we constitute an a-disciplinary working practice exploiting the productive encounters between different disciplines. While being about a network, Studio_L28 represents itself as a networked practice in itself. Through interdisciplinary network practice we investigate how we as practitioners can learn from different disciplines, and how we can formulate it into a new way of operating.

Following Miessen’s idea of the ‘crossbencher’[4], Studio_L28 departs from the first person singular: the individual practitioner. Building on the notion of self-responsibility our model of practice acknowledges an interconnection between the designer, multiple disciplines, their languages and tools, the urban contexts and actors involved. Design strategies that a practitioner employs we understand as a result of these interconnections. In Studio_L28 the practitioner combines the role of agent of change with the one of researcher and therefore commits her/himself to reflexivity as she or he pays attention to the process of action and reflection as they unfold. Studio_L28 provides a testing ground for phenomena, methods and tools we consider as elements of the transdisciplinary framework we deploy. Artistic practices, concepts and aesthetics of making organized sound inform the construction of a language that seizes its own methods and tools, and thereby manifests itself. Besides contributing to a new body of work, which assembles around the notion of sonic urbanism[5], Studio_L28 explores how hyper contextual practice can inform existing disciplines such as architecture and urbanism.

Project Area:

For the second edition of the master studio we move to the northern part of the Brussels railway area L28. In 2019-20 we zoom in on the open railway space that is affected by (sonic) vibrations, infrastructure and transient forms of architecture.

Possible Project Locations are:

  • Jardin Collective on the site of Tour & Taxis (Extensa BVBA)
  • Jubilee Bridge (Infrabel nv)
  • Pocket Parks (City of Brussels)
  • Park L28 (Brussels Environment)

Network Practice:

We set up a network practice in support of the on-site development of an urban sound design project. For the duration of the design studio in Sem01 plus length of an elective Course in Sem 02, collaborative design exercises, embedded in education, will be used as a means to explore the potential of urban sound design for a critical (re-)negotiation of processes for urban transition.

Throughout the process we will test new methods and tools for the co- production of a new sonic infrastructure in a context of urban transition.



W.1 Intro (PhD) Research Project: Theoretical Framework:

  • Clarification Participatory Approach of the Masterstudio + Participatory Research approach by Prof Dr. Arch Burak Pak
  • Introduction PhD Research – Framework – Methods & Tools by Drs. Caroline Claus:
    – Curated Soundwalk
    – Introduction non – human perspective: conceptual tools to consider urban sonic design from a non-human
  • Definition Research Goals / Framework by Prof Dr Burak and Drs Caroline

W.2 Introduction (PhD) Research: Planning Context:

  • Situating The L28 Planning Context – Planning & Design Urban Railway Spaces in the Project Area + Community Network + Projects
  • Situating Urban Spaces along the Line L28 (PhysicalSpaces + Communities / Outreach work / Social Mediation) for intervening
  • Site visit, site selection and understanding the socio-spatial along the upper L28(wijkmonitor, demography, key issues etc.)
  • Intro Quiet.Brussels

W.3 Introduction (PhD) Research : Method & Tools (PARTI):

  • Intro how to set up a simple sound monitoring system using a microphone + amplifier + recorder
  • Introduction to (sonic) vibrations as media for communication + creative and actual interpretation and graphic representation of acoustic data
  • Definition Site of Choice (individual project)
  • Inviting a bio acoustician – sound engineer – Brussels Environment

W.4 Introduction (PhD) Research : Method & Tools ( PARTII):

  • Intro Outreach Practice + Social Mediation in the area (Bravvo vzw)
  • Network Practice
  • Introduction to + organisation of the Collective Cartography Project
  • Collaborative Practice Social Association?

W.5 Challenge 01: Collective Map/Drawing: Field Work: 

  • Collective Map/Drawing: Participatory vs Performative Cartography

W.6 Challenge 01: Synthetic Collective Map/Drawing: Graphic Representation:

  • Nexus (in relation to the socio-spatial context)

Review 1 – Public Conversation / Presentation of Research Questions:

  • Reflection moment interactions/ Exhibition / Online Presentation/with the outside world.
  • Tapping into an international network : Sound Map / Streaming / Webpage

W.7 Individual Development of the Urban Strategy:

W.8  First urban/arch intervention ideas / issues to be addressed:

  • Introduction Urban Sonic Architecture as Critical Spatial Practice: Definition + Introduction to Parameters : Collective / Critical / Non Human / Open
  • Starting building a collective model with each student having their own part
  • Collective Performative Urban Space

W.9 urban/arch intervention development: Discussing the Feedback System: 

  • Setting up a feedback system: network of actors – mediation / Translation
  • Monitoring the design process via project parameters:
  • Collective / Critical / Non Human / Open / Individual Coaching

W.10 urban/arch intervention development: Individual Coaching: 

  • Reinforcement of the feedback system: network of actors – mediation / Translation
  • Monitoring the design process via project parameters: Collective / Critical / Non Human / Open
  • Individual Coaching

Review 2

W.11 urban/arch intervention development: Individual Coaching:   

  • Reinforcement of the feedback system: network of local actors & peers – mediation / Translation
  • Monitoring the design process via project parameters: Collective / Critical / Non Human / Open
  • Individual Coaching

W.12 urban/arch intervention development: Feedback System: 

  • Pre-reviewby network of actors & peers
  • On site testing and discussion of project parameters
  • Adaptation / Articulation

W.13 urban/arch intervention development 

W.14  urban/arch intervention development 

  • Final collective model
  • Final Jury


III. Evaluation (ECTS)

Type : Continuous assessment without exam during the examination period
Description of evaluation : Project/Product, Process evaluation
Type of questions : Open questions
Learning material : Reference work, Course material
The focus will be on compenteces related to:

  • Critical Spatial Practice – Cossbencher
  • Urban Sonic Understanding
  • Collective / Individual Learning (Process)

– 5A3 The student is able to develop a relevant design project out of a conceptual-programmatic logic.

– 7,1 The student is able to develop alternatives from a multidisciplinary and intercultural perspective.

– 4A3 The student is able to establish his/her own research or project strategy.

– 2C1 The student is able to develop a complex cultural-theoretical analysis.

– 5C1 The student is able to develop a relevant design, based on an complex cultural / societal context analysis.

– 6C1 The student is able to explicitate a contemporary point of view out of a cultural-historical rhetoric within the disciplin.

Contribution to the generic competences:

The student is able to assimilate and integrate information in a critical way through research and study in a way to act in a methodological, explorative and creative way in his architectural design in the urban architectural design studio.

The student can interpret his personal frame of references in relation to architecture through the specific field of UAD (urban architectural design) and specifically in the field of cities in transition. He/she is able to describe, to evaluate and to apply key concepts on this field.

[1] KU Leuven Masterstudio_L28 is part of the Ph.D. project: The Vibrational Nexus of a Brussels Railway Area in Transition with Prof. Dr. Burak Pak as the supervisor and Peter Cusack as the co-supervisor.

[2] AUDINT, Unsound:Undead – Edited by Steve Goodman, Toby Heys & Eleni Ikoniadou. 2019.  Hyperdub

[3] Goodman, Steve. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. Cambridge (Mass.): MIT, 2010. Print. Technologies of Lived Abstraction.

[4] See Miessen, Markus. Crossbenching: towards a proactive mode of participation as a Critical Spatial Practice. Diss. Goldsmiths, University of London, 2017.

[5] See TM https://theatrum-mundi.org/programme/crafting-a-sonic-urbanism/



Figure 1 . Jubelfeestbrug – BETONBLOK_5_BRUZZ_ACTUA_1608_(c)_Pim_Notebaert.jpg (1)


Figure 2. Jubelfeestbrug – BETONBLOK_5_BRUZZ_ACTUA_1608_(c)_Pim_Notebaert.jpg (2)


Figure 3.  L28 Pocket Park, Image by Claus Caroline (2019)


Figure 4.  L28 Railway Infrastructure Space, Image by Claus Caroline (2019)


Figure 5. Sonic Visualisation by Claus Caroline (2018)


Figure 6. Field Recording NYC – LIRR Area (2018) by Claus Caroline (2018)


Figure 7. Bernhard Leitner’s Project for the Hotel Embarcadero, San Francisco, 1973–1985. Copyright Atelier Bernhard Leitner, Vienna.


Figure 8. Pankow Soundwalk Project, by Peter Cusack and Katrinem. Image by Claus Caroline (2019)


Figure 9.  Railway Infrastructure, Berlin. Image by Claus Caroline (2019)


Figure 10. Performative Field Recording LIRR, NYC by Claus Caroline (2019)


V. References

  • Claus, C. (2018). Studio_L28: Sonic Perspectives on Urbanism. Q-O2.
  • ‘Park Thurn & Taxis openhouden voor iedereen.’ (2016) Bruzz. Available at: https:/www.bruzz.be/samenleving/park-thurn-taxis-openhouden-voor-iedereen-2016-12-15.
  • Kandjee, T., Pferdmenges, P. and Persijn, F. (2019) ‘Project van Richtplan van Aanleg Weststation’. Perspective.
  • Mabilde, J., Vanempten, E., Devoldere, S., and Oosterlynck, C. (Eds.) 2016. Metropolitan Landscapes: Open Ruimte als Basis voor Stedelijke Ontwikkeling – Espace Ouvert, Base de Développement Urbain. Merelbeke: Stevens Print.
  • “Het Groene Netwerk | Leefmilieu Brussel.” (2017), https://leefmilieu.brussels/groen-netwerk. Accessed 24 Sep. 2018.
  • Kandjee, T., Pferdmenges, P. and Casabella, N. (2017) ‘Contrat de Rénovation Urbaine – Gare de L’Ouest – Stadsvernieuwingscontract Weststation’. Taktyk – Alive Architecture – 1010au. Available at: http://wijken.brussels/2/.
  • Kandjee, T., Pferdmenges, P. and Persijn, F. (2019)
  • ADT – ATO (EQUIPE GARE DE L’OUEST). 2015. Etude de Définition Gare de L’Ouest. Retrieved from: http://www.adt-ato.brussels/fr/connaissance-territoriale/diagnostics-territoriaux/gare-de-l%E2%80%99ouest.
  • Plan Canal in Brussels: Belgium vs Molenbeek (2016) openDemocracy. Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/plan-canal-in-brussels-belgium-vs-molenbeek(Accessed: 20 September 2018). .
  • Eckhardt, J. (2016) Residency Report: Peter Cusack & Caroline Claus. Available at: http://soccos.eu/blog/detail/residency-report-caroline-claus-and-peter-cusack.
  • Farinati, L., Firt, C. (2017). The force of Listening. London: Errant Bodies Press.
  • LaBelle, B. (2018). Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance. London: Goldsmiths Press, 2018.
  • Fluegge, E. (2017). Soundly Planning: practically listening to (Belfast) sound spaces. Paper Presented at Invisible Places 2017, Azores, Portugal.
  • Claus C., Pak B. (2018). Towards Urban Sound Design for Transitional Public Railway Park/Places: Sonic Strategies for Engagement, Critical and Spatial Design. In: CA2RE: Conference For Artistic and Architectural (Doctoral) Research Proceedings. (108-119). Presented at the CA2RE: Conference For Artistic and Architectural(Doctoral) Research, Aarhus School of Architecture, 13 Apr 2018-16 Apr 2018. Aarhus. ISBN: 978-87-90979-78-2.
  • Pascual, M. (2017). Mark Bain – Listen to the Wall. Metal Magazine. Retrieved from https://metalmagazine.eu/es/post/interview/mark-bain-listen-to-the-wall
  • Goodman, Steve. (2010). Sonic Warfare. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
  • Goodman, Steve. Ed., (2019). UNSOUND: UNDEAD. MIT PRESS.
  • Augoyard, J.F., and Torgue, H. (2005). Sonic Experience. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
  • Claus, C. (2018).
  • Miessen, M. (2017). Crossbenching : towards a proactive mode of participation as a Critical Spatial Practice. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • “Crafting a sonic urbanism – Theatrum Mundi.” 26 Sep. 2018, http://theatrum-mundi.org/programme/crafting-a-sonic-urbanism/. Accessed 10 Feb. 2019.
  • Augoyard, J.F., and Torgue, H. (2005).
  • Augoyard, J.F., and Torgue, H. (2005).
  • Blesser, B. (2007). Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America., 121(4), 1820-1821.
  • Miessen, Markus. (2017). Crossbenching: towards a proactive mode of participation as a Critical Spatial Practice. Diss. Goldsmiths, University of London.