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 artists will create field recordings – external recordings – of the sonic components that make up a biodiverse habitat. These recording will be played at intervals to sonically predict – or perhaps tune – an experimental space and those who use it, to the germinating and growing seedlings. 

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


This installation brings together parallel projects being undertaken at RMIT exploring art and science approaches to urban design to enhance human well-being and biodiversity.  It draws on an existing ARC Linkage Grant project, entitled Designing Green Spaces for Biodiversity and Human Well-Being, conducted by Professor Sarah Bekessy and her team at Sustainability and Urban Planning RMIT University and an RMIT project exploring public-art and sustainability in urban space.

Designing Green Spaces' is seeking to better understand the role of urban design in attracting biodiversity and enhancing human well-being, and an RMIT art project exploring public-art and sustainability in urban space.

It is well researched the benefits that Urban green spaces contribute to a myriad of ecosystem services, delivering a remarkable range of human well-being benefits.

However, how these spaces are designed is not well researched. Scientists will be investigating how features of urban design, of green spaces, can link to greater social well being and biodiversity outcomes.  

The project will take place across numerous sites around the City of Melbourne and these sites will operate as modular experimental greening interventions. Sound artists will collaborate with the scientists in one pilot site, to explore the role public art can take in the design of Urban green spaces by developing a sound project that integrates with the scientific research. 

This project will research the role that sound might contribute in: 

*How people interact with the greener space through the role of the sonic
*How the plants respond to the recordings
*How the plants/sounds attract animals and birds and how their presence/absence affects the space, the plants as well as human interaction 


How it will work

Situated at RMIT University, City Campus, artists and scientists will come together to create a biodiverse green space. The chosen space will be filled with a variety of flowering and non-flowering plants, seeds and seedling, using modular experimental plots. Centred below the boxes will be an ambient soundscape.

The soundscape will incorporate a variety of field recordings of sounds associated with green spaces both within and outside the urban environment. Each soundscape will connect to/reflect particular plant species selected. 

Over the growing period there will be a series of guided conversations, workshops and public engagement activities within the space. Staff and students across several RMIT-based schools will engage with the site in the context of studio work and discussions.

The site will evolve over time (living grasses, generative sounds) with a dynamic presence that presents possible health benefits for urban spaces. Data will be captured by scientists and artists using a variety of techniques including interactive design system technology.