Exploring sound in design: from the use to the tool

by Théo Marchal + Hengameh Pirhosseinloo

The consideration of sound in the spatial design is a strong ambition of CRESSON since its beginnings. In particular, there are large brakes related to a «complex» presumption of acoustics for space designers.

As new digital design and evaluation tools emerge in the space designer’s environment, this is about understanding how they redefine project modes and methods to serve the sensitive quality of space. More specifically we will present how they can allow the sound to be considered in the project by presenting a tool to “listen” directly in a 3D model.

We will also look at tools previously developed within the team that can help the design of sound in space and how they inform us to develop a sound sketch tool.

Translation : 

Questions & Answers

Questions: Your tool is in progress. 1) How did you integrate sonic effects into your tool? 2) Question of rehabilitation. 3) Did you think about the concept of modularity in your tool?

Answers: 1) Sonic effects – He tried to integrate them. Tools he used to build Esquissons and that inspired him, and that appeared afterwards. It’s quite complicated as they are not exhaustive. Major resource. Often, we realise that we cannot recreate the effect, or it’s a blend, or it’s an effect that was not included in the repository/directory. Often: mix of effects, or there’s something missing to make a proper effect.

Metamorphosis effect is relatively easy to recreate.

We are working with recordings (not raw sounds). By default, we work on a specific site, and we record here. We have real sources – but they have already absorbed effects.

Great tool to describe the listening. Rich. Reality: simultaneity of effects. One of the difficulties that Esquissons faces is Time.

2) Quartier de l’Abbaye, Grenoble. Test on demolition, changes in uses. Esquissons was a small tool in a big project. It allowed to highlight sonic qualities, to figure out what to demolish and what to maintain/preserve.

Challenge: We have 5 buildings. We have to demolish. Instead, we proposed to rehabilitate – and that was selected in the consultation. Presentation of scenario to inhabitants – never really happened, as sound is very complicated at a political level.

It’s easier to show pretty things. Harder to hide things with sounds. Assumptions made by the different actors in that project. Grenoble has a difficult recent history when it comes to urban projects. Sensitive questions.

Teamwork. Make people listen represents a problem, because nuisances are suddenly highlighted. A pretty picture doesn’t show that.

3) Modularity then? It goes very deep into that concept.

It was very useful for the team to consider ambiances/soundscapes and the question of re-construction. Sonic qualities that disappear if we demolish such and such. Testing it made us realise and position ourselves in the web of fields (political, economic, etc.).

We tested one scenario for each micro-configuration. Interesting to see how it works, on an operational scale.

Architectural elements. Doable with landscape? Yes. Topography, uses, etc. One of the points studied in that project was the question of uses (uses depending if we place a market here or there, etc.).

Hard to control what would/could be the uses.

The modularity can be tested – one of the main original goals of Esquissons.

Modularity – key to the inhabitants’ satisfaction. We give them back some freedom/decision power.

Question: Can we work on the scale of a device/building/other?

Answer: Yes. Example of sonic umbrellas. Body scale.

Grasshopper plugin. 3D or stereo? Stereo for now. Technically, 3D is very complex for now. That would be ideal, but maybe later. Idea: Stereo + geo-sensor (to capture angles); to be tested, possibly.

Translation by Sophie Provost

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