by Christine Kerrigan
What could our cities look and feel like if we kept the sensory experience and local ecology in mind when we design and manage urban environments? I have the sneaking suspicion that they would be be happier and healthier places to live.
Designing in a more holistic way is well within our reach and it just requires us to collaborate more across sectors and disciplines. It’s in this vein that our McGill Sounds in the City team, in collaboration with the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), Laval University and the Direction de la Santé Publique de Montréal, brought together professionals (urban planners, sound professionals, health professionals, engineers, designers, elected officials, researchers, etc.) from the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors for an afternoon participatory workshop to collaborate on ways to help our cities sound better. Multidisciplinary teams shared their expertise and experiences with one another as they worked to improve the sound environments on three different case studies: 1) a quiet zone park area being disrupted by construction; 2) a high rise building being constructed adjacent to an artery; and 3) a residential area undergoing significant commercial development. New connections were formed amongst the participants, which we hope will seed interesting future collaborations.
Our urban populations will continue to increase and we can no longer afford to work in isolation if we want to tackle system challenges our cities face now and in the future. As Buckminster Fuller put it, “We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”
Our July 9th participatory workshop was hosted by ÉTS and also created in partnership with the Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux (MSSS) and the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC).
If you are interested in a workshop like this one, for you or your colleagues, please get in touch with the Sounds in the City team at firstname.lastname@example.org (P.I. Catherine Guastavino, McGill University).