Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Cultural and economic geography, Urban studies (Planning and development), 6. HUMANITIES, 6.4 ART

Publication Details

Thesis submitted to The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Technological University Dublin, in candidature for the degree of doctor of philosophy, November 2021.


This doctoral research advances the fields of urban sound design and acoustic planning, presenting new ways of exploring the interrelationship between individual and collective sonic experience, the dynamic potential of the urban sound environment and the complex evolution of the contemporary cityscape. It links urban sound art practices with larger urban design processes, revealing how sound contributes to the production of urban space. The research progresses by crafting a dynamic, integrative methodology that activates contrasting sonic perspectives to critically reassess the role of sound in the public realm. As it discloses this methodology, the research navigates the tension between new modes of urban sound design guided by critical artistic practice and more conventional strategies rooted in the paradigm of environmental noise. Efforts to address urban sonic conditions through quantifiable metrics are contextualised within a wider transition in which urban form is increasingly influenced by data capture, analysis and governance. Within this transition, the critical potential of sound as an active component of urban space is obscured by remedial strategies established to improve what are construed as unfavourable conditions. This research analyses the relationship between these remedial strategies, the emergence of the ISO soundscape standard and the concepts of urban ambiances, urban atmospheres and acoustic territories. It postulates that these centralising conceptual models can serve to limit as well as to advance the critical potential of this field, pursuing instead a more tactical, performative and pluralistic methodology. The articulation of this methodology is substantiated through the exposition of three major public artworks developed by the author, including: Continuous Drift (2015–), a permanent sound installation in a public urban square; The Manual for Acoustic Planning and Urban Sound Design (2013–2020), an artist placement exploring the role of the acoustic planner within a local authority; and The Office for Common Sound (2016–), a project space that fosters dialogue concerning sound within specific regional and institutional contexts. These projects expand the role of artistic practice within the context of urban design and spatial planning by activating the field of urban sound design within diverse spatial, administrative and social contexts. These projects extend established methodologies drawn from sound art, site-specific art and sound installation practices with tactics inherited from public, participatory and socially engaged art, demonstrating how artist-led strategies for urban sound design can advance new forms of spatial production through collaboration with diverse urban actors.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.