Sonic City

This project asked us to choose a piece of public art from around Dundee city centre and create a sound based response in a 3D form, or a listening post. My group investigated each of the pieces of art and chose to focus on the concrete sculpture of the car located near the train station. The location is surrounded by a car park and a main road, so there is a lot of air pollution, this sculpture attempts to tackle that as it actually absorbs pollutants and breaks them down into simple elements and chemicals that are beneficial to the environment.


Looking at the car’s ability to tackle air pollution we decided to investigate another problem in the area – sound pollution. Sound pollution is something that most people aren’t even aware affects them, but something as simple as traffic noise can elevate your blood pressure and make you more stressed without you even noticing!

sonic city notes 1

We focused on the idea of the car sculpture “breathing” new air into the environment, so took that as a base for our sound investigations, but also made a point of cutting down the existing noise. Half of the group looked at creating natural breathing noises and heart beats, and half of the group investigated natural ways to absorb the noise through different materials and forms.


Using tessellated shapes made of soft materials (e.g.. soft furnishings or other highly porous materials like cork or foam) is the most effective way to absorb sound.

sonic notes 2

We decided on a domed structure to cut down as much of the external noise as possible without completely cutting the existing sculpture off from the rest of the environment. The existing sculpture still has to bee in open air to keep in context.

car drawing 1

This is a quick image of the proposed 3d structure – it consists of a shell made of fabric impregnated with concrete, in internal layer of sound absorbing foam, a wooden support structure in the shape of ribs and a spine and large cork, tessellated, geodesic spheres suspended from the ceiling.
sonic 2013-10-18 21574600000

perspective sonic city


6 thoughts on “Sonic City”

  1. Hi an interesting exposition of your project and a fun end product, or half-way product as I think maybe you have a full semester on this. I’m not fully sure why the sculpture needs sound proofing – is it to make people more aware of the issue, or is it a nice place for a snooze – with breathing noises so you can return to the womb. I’m beginning to like it more and more, maybe a red glow and the heart beats you mentioned – yes…

  2. Hi Julia! It’s more to create a noise-free zone to combat noise pollution, to create a space free from the every day noises that we tend to ignore, but that actually affect us physically in a negative way. It could be interpreted in several ways – a regression space, a healing space, a “clean” space etc. I forgot to add that the sounds that would be played in the space would be played at a rate of 60 BPM, which is equal to the human heart whilst sleeping. Hearing this rate of sound automatically relaxes humans, adding to the feeling of it being a safe and relaxing zone.

  3. I find your concept very interesting. I always wondered what that car was there for and now I know! I also would never have known sound pollution can affect you the way it does. I love the structure created over the car, almost becoming part of it but tackling a whole new problem.

  4. I think your concept is great! I have walked passed that ‘car’ sculpture so many times and had no idea what it was for. I also had no idea that ‘sound pollution’ even existed. You have explained your project so well, well done to you and the rest of your group

  5. I’m in awe of the level of research that wen’t into this project, as well as the sample of the noise reduction chamber that you produced for the presentation. The visuals are looking fantastic as well, and really compliment the existing piece. A great project.

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3rd year interior and environmental design student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. Crazy cat lady, tea and beer enthusiast, trekkie, feminist. This is a space to share my ideas and exhibit my portfolio.

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