The silent hole
The Industrial Revolution and the Electric Revolution sparked the Noise Pollution. The city demand, more and more, silent spaces. Places to satisfy needs of their inhabitants. Contingent spaces and affective able to foster social and solitude relationships.I decided to establish a series of design principles: Sinking space and modular component, in order to create a public space that can control noise rather than no noise, and Induce calm and a space to think.
The following analytical guidelines are essential in order to understand the processes and phenomena of city expansion. They imply a consideration of urban natural and cultural aspects, i.e. the real city with all its complexity, ambiguity and apparent contradictions, with all its facets, parts, components and subsystems, modes of growth, development and established relationships (Munizaga 2000, 40). The methodological approach of the research is phenomenological (Munizaga 2000; Juhani 2006) and it considers human being’s existence in the world while reflecting upon the different ways of living. Therefore, it defines the function of inhabiting more appropriate to a determined place (Yory 2007). It is the empirical perspective people have of defining the place or, in other words, the experience of those who use the place, including the ways in which is meaningful to them and their interpretation for others. It is that which Yi Fu Tuan (1974) has defined as Topophilia. Accordingly, the different conceptions of urbanism highlight the paradigm shift from the functional city—static & visual—to the experienced city: a city of relations, interactive and changeable, in which the urban structure will be dynamic and reinterpreted by users and it will provide multidimensionality to urban space. The structure as the dialectic between the built environment and the social space (Martinez Caro & De la Rivas 1990) defines the city as lived milieu. Nevertheless, that which breathes life into the city is not constituted by the buildings but by the people, and consequently the social and built environments are in a constant and dynamic exchange in order to generate the urban structure. Likewise, the urban structure is affected by change (Munizaga 2000) and expresses the interdependence between the environment and its constructed elements. In this context, human beings must be understood as the basic cell that unifies and adapts their organization and their memory as a collective production within urban structure. This adaptive process is related to the term “urban metabolism” (Munizaga 2000) and has as basic concepts notions as grid, node and tissue that constitute both the abstract image (Munizaga 2000) and the basic functional unit (Martinez Caro et al. 1990) of any given urban structure.
The relationship between the basic elements of the urban structure is established through different configurations and may be understood as “representing a specialized synthesis of different elements brought to planes (iconic models)” (Munizaga 2000, 269). This representation includes the urban order revealed by analysis or proposal, and allows both the establishment of formal types of scale and the spatial organization of the city. It constitutes a way of representing three aspects of the structure—morphological, functional and semiological—and distinguishes among three distinct types of configurations that include relatively unique sets of the city’s structure:
Morphological configurations allow “a material comprehension of the urban form, modes of organization of the elements and conditions of the physical elements. They express the modes of organization and scale adopted by the different components of the urban fabric. They incorporate natural and built elements and highlight the shape and spatial aspects as well as the typologies and styles” (Munizaga 2000, 271). • Functional configuration “expresses the processes and activities that are located in the urban environment and defines the mode of operation of a city as system. From the point of view of the user and activities, it defines the processes and phenomena that condition the functions of the socio-urban infrastructure, determining location patterns and systems of urban movements” (Munizaga 2000, 271). The functional structure of a city is essentially interdependent, yet functional subsystems are determined as an attempt to define specific configurations: movement subsystem, location, demography and infrastructure. • Semiological configurations are “an abstract and concrete condition underlying the city, altering the properties of objects with complex meanings and references, which distinguishes them from the morphological” (Munizaga 2000, 281). The author argues that they enhance the subjective experience of the city, making the urban spaces more identifiable and significant.
According to Botteldooren (2006), a sound environment is considered as an aggregate of many sounds that are able to evoke specific emotions. The sound environment as a perceptible aesthetic unit is defined as soundscape (Murray Schaffer 1960). In order to register the soundscape, the listener bases her/his observation on empathy and divergence. She/He is connected with the dynamics of meditation, displacement and virtuality —i.e. sound movements— and uses a method based on soundwalking, experiencing the space through their sounds. According to Botteldooren et al (2006), the urban soundscape emerges naturally as the result of typical activities that take place in the public area on which it develops. In other words, the sound environment provides both aesthetic and existential experiences, albeit ephemeral and transient. Thus, in order to learn to listen to landscapes, it is required to pay attention to the dimensions of scanning, accompanying and protection, as well as to attitudes involving exploration, responsiveness and protection. Each urban area will encompass the three spatial dimensions, although some will acquire more prominence depending on the conditions of the space itself. In perception and understanding of the city, listening plays an integral role in sound reception in relation to experiences of space living and sound qualities.
The sound environment as a variable of urban analysis complements the study of the urban structure, incorporating a temporal dimension to the study. It also reinforces the condition of synesthesia and complements the morphological, functional and semiotic configurations of the space. At a lower permeability and less variety, the sound environment may be quieter. At a higher permeability and greater variety, the sound environment tends to be more annoying and/or unpleasant. In the study, it is important to highlight the presence of services/equipment in the street and its location in relation to either quietest or most active places linked to the soundscape. The sound effects consider the aural characteristics, as well as the perceptive and mnemonic (code) organization of any individual place in a particular situation. It also marks the specificities of culture and sociability of reference related to the context. The relationship between urban elements, sound effects and the conditions of space, depend on specific contexts. These aspects should be considered as key parameters in city planning and design, and therefore they should activate scanning, protection and preservation restrictions in certain urban spaces.
…From his cramped and noisy quarters, Doni projects himself mentally and sensorially beyond the apartment’s walls and through the temporal and spatial portals opened up by works of art. Instead of fighting the power of noise to penetrate walls, he denies the power of those walls to contain his vision. As his world of aural perception contracts, he counters the confinement not by consolidating his mind, as Seneca had done, but by expanding his sensorial reach, transferring his self-awareness to his sense of sight. He leaves the noise behind by initiating an extended reverie triggered by activating an aesthetic gaze, which dissolves the limits of his domestic chaos to embrace the entire city through pictures of friends, heroes, saints, landscapes, and histories. Escaping noise by creatively engaging his visual imagination allows Doni to deploy the power of representation to open up thresholds into wider intersecting worlds, where the world of art becomes the touchstone for reconfiguring the borders and limits of one’s immediate surroundings. He cannot close his ears, but redirecting his energies toward vision seems to be a way to cut the connection between noise and mind, enabling him to lose his state of aural awareness.
Final part: Evolution of forms in the city.
If I were to take this research forward, I would be interested in exploring the potential for the variability of this form, and continue to study how it adapts to different urban conditions, in order to corresponds to the general noise pollution in the modern city.