Acoustic Space: A media archaeology of building types

We live in acoustic space. We live constantly plugged-in, travelling in our personal sonic bubbles defined by headphones and other devices. We listen because we like it, but also to disconnect and avoid other noises. Our times are defined by an unprecedented and simultaneous coexistence of sounds and images disseminated at the speed of light, and yet there is little understanding of the architectural implications of this phenomena. However, the construction of the media-populated environments that we inhabit is at least 100 years old and initiated when radio began to populate the ether, when television entered the domestic space, and now when the internet seems to cover every single aspect of our daily lives. This seemingly invisible and immaterial phenomenon has been producing—and has been produced by—new building types for over a century which have been widely overlooked by our discipline.
The seminar will focus on the intersection of buildings and electronic media technologies, with specific interest in sonicity, aiming to understand the material dimension of the media-populated spaces that we inhabit today. If media technologies such as radio, telephony, television, and the internet presume the construction of “space” without any material implication, the seminar proposes to look at the widely overlooked and highly material aspect of this phenomenon. In this context, the seminar will trace the genealogy of Broadcasting Houses, Television Studios, Cinemas, Acoustic Laboratories, Telephone Exchange Buildings and Educational Spaces, among others.

The seminar is a multidisciplinary course intersecting the history and theory of architecture with media history and theory. It is dedicated to architecture students and to other students enrolled in programs and intellectual disciplines with interests in media and/or sound studies. The seminar will be structured along thematic readings each week. In addition to reading discussions from diverse fields and disciplines, each student will lead a 30-minute discussion based on the presentation of a built case study.

The syllabus of the course proposes a list of buildings from which students will select a research case study. Participants in the seminar are expected to work throughout the semester on one case study and submit the following material at the end of the term: An exterior model of their case study; one model photograph of an interior space of their building; a 1-minute long sound or video composition made out of found footage or sounds; and a 1000-word research paper. 

Grading Rubric:
20% Class Presentation
40% In-class Participation
40% Final Presentation