Dr Ouzounian and Dr Lappin to present at Northern Ireland Assembly's KESS

On 28 February 2018, Dr Lappin and Dr Ouzounian will present the findings of RTC to date at the Northern Ireland Assembly's Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS).  The event, which occurs throughout the year, allows academics and researchers to present their work to elected officials, policy makers and civil servants.  The session on 28 Feburary will feature work of scholars on the topics of "People and surroundings -- impacts of sound."

New Issue of Evental Aesthetics on Sound Art and Environment

Update on Urban Sound Workshops

In September 2016, RTC conducted several workshops with planners, councillors and professionals to better understand the ways in which the sonic environment can be better considered at early stages of urban design projects in Belfast. We were overwhelmed by the interest in our workshops from all areas of planning and urban design and the primary conclusion drawn was that designers and decision-makers alike are calling for sound to be recognised as a key factor in any successful urban setting.

Workshop attendees included:

  • Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Belfast City Council -- Planning and Environment; City & Neighbourhood Services Department
  • Belfast Harbour Commissioners 
  • Belfast Healthy Cities
  • Belfast Tourism
  • City Reparo Lobbying Group
  • Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs
  • Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership, Belfast Health Development Unit
  • Hogarth Group, Landscape Architects
  • Ciaran Mackel Architect
  • Mid Ulster District Council
  • Optimised Environments Consultants
  • Peter Lloyd Associates Acousticians

Since these workshops, RTC have met with key decision-makers in planning and tourism in NI, some of whom asked us to pursue further research to inform their work. As a result, RTC prepared a briefing paper for Belfast City Council describing how acoustic considerations will directly affect the objectives set out in NI’s Local Development Plans.

Thanks to the Urban Sound workshops, our attention has been drawn to several planned urban projects in Northern Ireland that we hope to enhance through advising careful consideration of the sonic environment. For example, research into three scales of sound art installation in urban areas was supplied to Pier Morrow at Belfast Tourism. RTC has applied to present information to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Autumn 2017 as part of the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS). KESS is annually delivered by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Research and Information Service (RaISe) and local university partners: Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), Ulster University (Ulster) and The Open University (OU).

Advice Note

RTC is currently finalising the first draft of a Planning Advice Note. This work is based upon extensive research across Europe, and informed by the workshops held by RTC in Belfast last September. We have carried out a detailed analysis of particularly impactful advice notes from around the UK and the EU.

Consultation sessions will be held shortly with planners, council officers, and professionals in the built environment before the Advice Note is issued. It will set forth RTC’s primary concerns and will include a variety of international examples of sound art installations that have impacted on a number of key factors as identified by the new Belfast Area Plan including:

  • shared space
  • ageing populations
  • sustainable development
  • tourism
  • connectivity

For this reason, the RTC project is currently one of the possible Impact Case Studies for REF UA16 for QUB Architecture and Planning.

Briefing Paper: Planning for Healthy Acoustic Environments

In October 2016, RTC created a briefing paper called Planning for Healthy Acoustic Environments commissioned by Martina Lundy, Belfast City Council, as part of the council’s drafting of new planning policy.

Health will be an important consideration for councils in Northern Ireland as they prepare Community Plans and Local Development Plans as a result of the local government reform in 2015. Sound is an important but often overlooked factor affecting health and wellbeing, especially in cities, and while many environmental health factors in urban areas are improving, noise pollution continues to rise (Goines and Hagler, 2007).

The way that sound affects our wellbeing goes far beyond the impairment of the ear organ and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). It has been shown to affect blood pressure, mental health, crime and antisocial behaviour as well as economic sustainability and the biodiversity of our natural environments. Therefore, acoustic planning is relevant to councils’ Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Community Plan, and the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) that accompanies the Preferred Options Paper for the Local Development Plan.

This briefing paper presents evidence of health issues associated with noise and sound, and how this can relate to land use planning. It provides evidence that land use planning can improve such issues through considering sound at an early stage, and that this can contribute to economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Taking sound measurements and recordings in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast

Taking sound measurements and recordings in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast


Thank you to all those who have engaged with our workshops on urban sound this week at The MAC, Belfast. We have had an outstanding week of discussions with a wide range of participants from organisations including Belfast City Council, Mid-Ulster Planning Department, Department for Communities Belfast, Landscape Planning and Development Belfast, Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership, Ards Planning, Belfast Healthy Cities -- as well as an inspiring group of architects, landscape architects, urban planners, developers, policymakers, artists and academics. It has been an intense and invigorating week.

Special thanks to Ken Sterrett, Matilde Meireles and Conor McCaffery for their contributions to the workshop, and to the staff of PLACE NI, the MAC and Queen's University Belfast for their support. The workshops were generously sponsored by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) as part of our project 'Hearing Trouble: Sound Art in Post-Conflict Cities'. A report on these workshops will be available on www.recomposingthecity.org later this month.


Recomposing the City and PLACE Architecture & Built Environment Centre will co-host a series of 3 workshops at The MAC Belfast in September on the topic of urban sound design. The workshops, which are generously supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, will bring together urban planners, architects and sound artists in discussing the role of sound in the design and planning of urban environments. We look forward to welcoming workshop participants at The MAC in September. 


'Listen to this Wall' public art initiative, San Francisco. Photo by Gascia Ouzounian 2016.

'Listen to this Wall' public art initiative, San Francisco. Photo by Gascia Ouzounian 2016.

RTC Workshops planned for September 2016

As part of their AHRC Hearing Trouble project, the Recomposing the City team has begun preliminary work on their roundtable workshops which will occur in Belfast in early September 2016.  The workshops will bring together architects, sound artists, planners, policy makers, developers, and government officials to discuss how sound might be better considered in the making of public space.  

If you are interested in attending these workshops, please contact us.

RTC PhD Researcher Selected for Sound @ Nissan Project

Conor McCafferty, PhD Researcher with the Recomposing the City research group, has been selected to take part in Sound @ Nissan, an innovative urban development project led by the Harp Art Lab in Halmstad, Sweden. Conor is one of ten people selected to develop work during April-September 2016.

The Sound @ Nissan project will use sound art methods and processes to inform the planning and design of a new residential area close to the Nissan river: "The project aims to use sound as a tool in the urban development process of Tullkammarkajen in Halmstad. The new residential area is planned to develop along Nissan - the river that runs through Halmstad, Sweden. The area will consist of a mixed development in its content, predominantly residential residences (600 units) and it will be the 'future portal to Halmstad by the water'."

In his PhD project, Conor is researching the use of sound maps as a means of urban analysis and participatory engagement, asking how built environment professionals and residents can develop their understanding of urban spaces through sound. For this project, he will work with local residents, architects, planners and other stakeholders to explore the urban environment with sound maps.

For more about Sound @ Nissan, see http://harpartlab.se/

The project will take place in Halmstad, Sweden

The project will take place in Halmstad, Sweden

Former RTC Student Begins Teaching at Cyprus Academy of Art

Former student member of the Recomposing the City group, Antonis Stylianou, has begun teaching architectural design at the Cyprus Academy of Art.  Stylianou carried out research as a Master's of Architecture student at Queen's about urban sound art installations for both his humanities and technical dissertations.  In addition to teaching, he is also working in an architectural firm and continues to DJ.

Antonis Stylianou Master's of Architecture Technical Dissertation

Antonis Stylianou Master's of Architecture Technical Dissertation

Queen's Master's of Architecture Students Visit Berlin

From 23-27 October 2015, Michael Corr, Director of PLACE, Northern Ireland's Architecture and Built Environment Centre, Sarah Lappin and a group of ten Master's of Architecture students from Queen's carried out a study tour in Berlin.  In addition to studying multiple buildings and spaces in the city, the group also toured Hans Scharoun's Berlin Philharmonie building, visited Arno Brandlhuber’s infill building at 9, Brunnenstrasse which includes the project "BUG" by Mark Bain (2010), listened to Ignacio Uriarte’s piece “Counting (for) Eight Hours” at the Berlinische Galerie (2014) and heard Camille Henrot's piece "The Pale Fox" (2015) in Werner Düttmann’s St Agnes Church Berlin recently reconfigured by Arno Brandlhuber.

St Agnes Church: photo by Matthew Murnin

St Agnes Church: photo by Matthew Murnin

AHRC Early Career Research Grant: Hearing Trouble

Recomposing the City is delighted to announce that Gascia Ouzounian and Sarah Lappin have received an Early Career Research grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council of the UK. Their project, 'Hearing Trouble: Sound Art in Post-Conflict Cities', is a cross-disciplinary research project that seeks to better understand the urban environment through an examination of sound and sound art, focusing on the particular conditions of post-conflict cities undergoing rapid and radical change. Our research will focus on Berlin and Belfast, cities that support vibrant communities of sound artists and that have similar architecture and planning cultures.

For more information on the Hearing Trouble project, please visit the RCUK Research Portal.

Welcoming Rachel O'Grady

Recomposing the City is thrilled to welcome Rachel O’Grady to the research team of the AHRC-funded project “Hearing Trouble: Sound Art in Post-Conflict Cities.”  

Rachel is completing a PhD at the CASS School of Architecture, London Metropolitan University. Using live collaborative projects, her research has examined the interpretative possibilities of architectural ‘heritage’ in the city, and their creative potential. She has been working in three neighbourhoods in close proximity to the Taj Mahal in Agra, North India.

Rachel’s project the Buksh Museum of Hobbycraft: a collaboration with India-based NGO CURE received an ASF-International Honorary Mention Award this year. The next two phases of construction have been granted planning permission and the project continues.

Rachel studied architecture at the University of Cambridge and then LMU. Before her PhD research she worked for London architecture practices Penoyre & Prasad LLP and Wright & Wright Architects.

For more information on Rachel's projects, visit the Buksh Museum's Facebook page, or follow Rachel on Twitter.

Buksh Museum (Phase One), before and after shot

Buksh Museum (Phase One), before and after shot

We are hiring! Seeking an RA for 'Hearing Trouble'

Recomposing the City is hiring! We are seeking a Research Assistant with MA-level background in Architecture or Urban Planning and professional experience in architectural design to join our research team as part of our 3-year AHRC-funded project 'Hearing Trouble'.

Please see/share the job description below. This is a part-time post (approx. 15 hrs/week), and it is based in Belfast. Applications due by 29 May.


Welcoming Elen Flügge

Recomposing the City is thrilled to welcome a new PhD student, Elen Flügge, who will join us in 2015-16 through the support of a Northern Bridge Doctoral Training studentship. 

Elen is a writer and sound artist who is currently based in Berlin. She is interested in individualised audition and silent sound art, site- and context-specific works, critical writing on audio-media culture, and translating theory into audio-visual and spatial installations. Her undergraduate work at Bard College, NY, explored music and language perception. Her MA in Sound Studies at Universität der Künste, Berlin, focused on auditory culture and sonic arts. Elena's doctoral research will focus on listening practices for urban space.  

The Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership is an AHRC-funded programme that brings together three universities--Queen's University Belfast, Durham University, and Newcastle University--in the context of postgraduate studies and research. 

Congratulations to Elen for her success in receiving an NBDTP doctoral award.

You can find more on Elen's work at Personal Sound Space.

From Elen Flugge's  Personal Sound Space (the Exhibition) , 2011.

From Elen Flugge's Personal Sound Space (the Exhibition), 2011.

Call for Abstracts: PGR Symposium 'Soundspace'


Recomposing the City will host a PGR symposium, Soundspace, on Monday, 18 May at Queen's University Belfast. This symposium emerges from our recent Soundspace seminar series, which has explored the topic of sound and space across multiple disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, architecture, planning, music and sonic arts. If you are a Master's or PhD student at Queen's University Belfast and wish to contribute a 15-minute paper or presentation on any topic related to the seminar series, please send a 1-paragraph abstract and a 2-3 sentence biography by Friday 17 April to recomposingthecity@gmail.com

The Soundspace Seminar Series and PGR Symposium is generously funded by the Queen's Annual Fund and School of Creative Arts at Queen's. 


Recomposing the City is delighted to announce a seminar series, SOUNDSPACE. The series will focus on exploring the topic of sound and space across multiple disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, architecture, planning, music and sonic arts. 

There will be opportunities for students to share their work with this exciting roster of speakers. At the end of the series we will host a Post-Graduate Symposium that will feature the work of Queen's MA and PhD students.

Please find more details on our EVENTS page. If you are interested in attending, please send an email to recomposingthecity@gmail.com to register your interest and tell us a few words about your work or studies. 

All Events 12.45-2 PM, McMordie Hall, Music Building (accessed via University Square), unless otherwise noted. 

Monday 16 February: Steve Larkin, Architect

Thursday, 19 February. Special event. 8 PM, Black Box. 'Soundspace: A Manifesto'. Gascia Ouzounian and Sarah Lappin, Recomposing The City

Monday 2 March: Rachel Ní Chuinn, Radio Producer

Monday 23 March: Sven Anderson, Sound Artist and Urban Acoustic Planner

Monday 27 April: Dr Jacqueline Waldock, Ethnomusicologist

Monday 11 May: Dr Katherine Fennelly, Archaeologist

Monday 18 May: Soundspace Post-Graduate Symposium: Location and time TBA

Poster design by Helena Hamilton.

Poster design by Helena Hamilton.