Deafness in landscape architecture:
soundwalking to reawaken the sensesAnthony Magen Soundwalks were introduced to me relatively recently by educator and composer Hildegard Westerkamp when I attended the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) Symposium in Melbourne in 2003.The profound impression this simple exercise has had on my life, has prompted me to host many iterations throughout Australia. I aim to explore ideas cultivated from these exercises. To analyse Soundwalks phenomenologically but also to use this practice as a communicative tool and encourage dialogue within urban design, to celebrate one of our greatest and often underestimated senses, hearing.Once ‘soundscape’ is acknowledged as a valid and vital ‘Commons’, as a landscape catalyst, then spatial awareness would alter and ultimately that of our culture. A culture that is grappling with separation through increasing privatisation, individualism and exclusion. Spatial design never exists outside of its social context, which is composed of ecologies of subcultures. Yet listening, is also a deeply personal experience since sounds comes to us, actually enters us, with conscious and sub conscious psycho-physiological responses and it is through these latent paradigms that there is a considerable creative potential.There are two fundamental elements to Soundwalks; listening and walking.The walking element of a Soundwalk is crucial to the activity. The act of crossing space is born from the necessity to move and find food for survival. Once the basic needs have been satisfied walking becomes an architectural intervention and is an act of significance. It defines our relationship to the landscape as it modulates our sense of spaces and territories.Differences in attitudes between the sedentary farmer Cain and his nomadic shepherd brother Able and the path that modern society has paved subsequently is distinguishable in these different ways of thinking and living. Today roads, map contours for...