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Promoting cross-sector collaboration

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.”

For more photos of the workshop:

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 (P.I. Catherine Guastavino, McGill University).

Fleurs de Macadam: Transformer le paysage sonore urbain

by Valérian Fraisse

Depuis l’année dernière, l’équipe Sounds in the City, en étroite collaboration avec les designers sonores de chez Audiotopie, met en place des installations sonores sur la toute récente Place Fleurs-de-Macadam, au 962 Mont-Royal Est, durant l’été. Le but est de valoriser les différentes vocations de cet havre urbain, en tant que lieu de repos, de rencontres, et plus encore. En somme, créer une bulle dans la ville en réduisant l’impact sonore du trafic, mais aussi agir avec les acteurs et spécialistes du monde urbain. Ce projet va de pair avec l’objectif global de notre équipe, qui est d’enrichir le contact entre la recherche et le monde professionnel, et trouver de nouveaux moyens intelligents d’améliorer la vie dans la ville en agissant sur le son.

Dans cette optique, d’autres projets collaboratifs et artistiques verront le jour dans les années qui viennent. En attendant, venez apprécier et écouter nos expérimentations au 962 Mont-Royal Est cet été !

Plus d’informations à propos de l’installation de l’année dernière sont disponibles dans cet article de Céline Bonnot:

Sounds in the City visits Belgium – presentations available for download

Members of Sounds in the City found themselves in the lovely city of Ghent, Belgium for a symposium on urban sound.

Christine Kerrigan was one of about two dozen invited speakers who had been invited to speak on their soundscape expertise. Christine shared her experience at the intersection of multidisciplinary design and soundscape in her talk, “Bringing sound into urban public place design.” Her presentation slides, as well as those of many other presenters, are available for download here:

Christine also served as a jury member for the Soundscape Hackathon. View images of her participation here:

Je vote pour la science : « Ne pas sous-estimer la gestion du bruit »

Un membre de notre équipe, Romain Dumoulin, présente comment la ville anticipe et gère les bruits urbains. Aujourd’hui, l’approche courante est basée sur les nuisances définies par les plaintes des citoyens et limitée par les ressources humaines. Il explique qu’il faut sensibiliser les décideurs de la ville pour changer l’environnement sonore. Vous pouvez l’écoutez en suivant ce lien :

Sounds in the City goes back to school

by Cynthia Tarlao

Our team was invited to participate in a workshop on sound ecology and active listening at the Lucien-Pagé secondary school in Villeray in February, as part of a project lead by the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) Youth Program and Trames Audio.

The workshop encouraged the young students, aged 14 to 16, to take the time to listen to the sounds around them in their daily lives, and to think about the positive aspects that sound can bring to their usual contexts.

Continue reading →

Sounds in the City at RYTHMOPOLIS on September 8th

Sounds in the City principal investigator, Catherine Guastavino, and Pierre Michaud, composer for RYTHMOPOLIS and Associate Professor at the University of Montreal, will be moderating the RYTHMOPOLIS conference on September 8th. Discussions will take place about immersive environments incorporating sound, visuals and music in public spaces. Christine Kerrigan, multidisciplinary designer and Sounds in the City team member, will also be presenting. The conference is free and open to the public, but you do need to register. Here’s a link for more info: Please note that the conference will mostly be in French.

Sounds in the City in the news!

Head over to Le Devoir to see an interview with our Principal Investigator, Catherine Guastavino. She talks about our involvement in evaluating the sounds and user perceptions of the three prototypes being tested this summer at the Terrain 962 on Avenue du Mont-Royal: (in French)

Also, catch the commentary from our acoustician, Romain Dumoulin, on CBC regarding the hotly debated issue of festival noise and its measurement on the Ile Ste-Helene:

In English:

In French:

Early birds! Stay tuned for a dawn-time soundwalk with Sounds in the City

by Mariana Mejia

You may have visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens before, but have you ever visited before sunrise? Our upcoming soundwalk, a collaboration with the ‘Dawn Stroll’ event organized by the Gardens staff, will take participants off the marked trails and away from the stimulus of their cellphones to place themselves in a guided auditory experience like no other.

Starting at 4 am, participants will witness the auditory spectacle that welcomes a new day, produced by the various species that call the Botanical Gardens home. This soundwalk offers a heightened sonic perception that prompts active listening of one’s immediate surroundings as the lighting changes from night to day. It will also allow the participants to ponder how much the urban sounds beyond the Gardens affect their experience and define the sonic environment of a natural space nested within the city.

The soundwalk will be led by ornithologist Jean-Philippe Gagnon and Dr. Catherine Guastavino, head of the Sounds in the City project.

Listen below for a sample of the sounds heard in the Botanical Gardens shortly after sunrise.


Visit here for more information about the soundwalk:

photography by Luis Mejia