A Centre for Listening

Green, M. (2017) ‘A Centre for Listening’ Proceedings of Fieldstudies 2017: Listening after Pauline Oliveros, University of Leeds, 2017. 


In March of 2017, the author hosted a workshop concerning sound, architecture and the Centre for Creative Arts, a new building scheduled to open 2020 that will house Leeds Beckett University’s School of Film, Music and Performing Arts as well as Fashion. Central to the workshop was ‘acoustic design’, an interdisciplinary practice outlined by R. Murray Schafer that includes “the imaginative placement of sounds to create attractive and stimulating acoustic environments for the future” (Schafer, 1994, p.271). The workshop comprised: an introduction to acoustic design given by both the author and the co-founder of the research initiative Recomposing the City, Dr Sarah Lappin (http://recomposingthecity.org/); a soundwalk encompassing sites of acoustic merit within Leeds Beckett’s Headingley Campus; and a design activity that yielded a number of ideas for aural architectures and site-specific sound installations for the forthcoming Centre for Creative Arts. The workshop concluded with discussion of the feasibility and possible impact of acoustic design in the development of the Centre for Creative Arts.

One suggestion made in the workshop was for the Centre for Creative Arts to be a building that respects, advocates and encourages listening. With reference to the content of the workshop, the proposed paper will consider what a space designed for listening may comprise and the value of such a space both in the context of the Centre of Creative Arts and in the broader public realm. In this discussion, historic works of public sound art and architecture that apply to listening will be raised (e.g. Max Neuhaus’ Time Pieces), and key thinkers on listening and sound and space will be referenced including Pauline Oliveros.

Schafer, R. M. (1994), The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Destiny Books.