All photography provided by Kim de Kretser & Freya Thomas

What does the role of sound and audio play in the greening of urban spaces and how does this impact the well-being of people, animals and plants in the urban environment?



This project explores how sound and urban greening can work together to help in the design, development and planning of our future cities.

The health and well-being of urban residents is intrinsically linked to green spaces and their biodiversity.
— Maller et al. 2006, Mitchell & Popham 2008, Elmqvist et al. 2013.


Can sound play a role in amplifying the benefits of green spaces and engaging people with them?

Sound is a key component of biodiversity – of both animal, plant and human habitats – and one that is frequently overlooked.

The role of sound is complex, particularly in cities. In this project invited artists have created field recordings – external recordings – of the sonic components that make up a biodiverse habitat. With an emphasis on broken ecologies, an open call invited artists to submit sound recordings that considered sources of sound that might be considered geophanic, biophonic and anthropophonic. 

“Rather than looking back, trying to emulate a kind of speculative, pristine wilderness that may or may not have once existed, broken ecologies work with what we have now, embracing the maladaptive, mixed and complex conditions that we have in our cities today”, artist, Catherine Clover.

These recording will be played at intervals to sonically predict – or perhaps tune – an experimental space and those who use it, humans, insects, birds and the plants themeselves. 

The recordings will be curated into 100 minutes of collective works and listening experiences. The soundscapes move from birds, cicadas, penguins and frogs to urban spaces, trains, local parks and electronic interpretations of birds, taking visitors on an unexpected journey of nature and urban intrusion. 

“In every sound, the hidden silence sleeps.”
— Dejan Stojanovic, The Creator

How it will work

Situated at RMIT University, City Campus in the Sunken Garden (Alumni Courtyard), artists, landscape designers, sound designers, interactive systems designers and scientists have come together to create a biodiverse green space. The site will be filled with a variety of plants indigenous to Melbourne, using experimental plots designed in collaboration with landscape architecture students.

The sound works will be heard from three speakers within the installation structure. Each speaker plays a particular set of works over the course of 100 minutes.

The installation is approached in two ways. Firstly, it may be listened to as a presentation of three different sound environments, separated and distinguished by the order they comfortably sit within (background, ambience, signal). Secondly, it may be listened to as one amalgamated sonic landscape, containing three orders of information (background, ambience, signal). Each approach will render a different listening experience, and each listener will experience the works in their way.

The installation is a dynamic structure of interconnected triangles, designed to be adaptable, mobile and scalable for urban environments. Designed as part of a Landscape Architecture studio, students worked in collaboration with industry sponsor Programmed and the artists. 

Fielding will be installed for Spring/Summer of 2018. Scientists and artists will observe the space and those who use it, insect, animal or human. Data will be captured by scientists and artists using a variety of techniques including interactive design system technology