Places shape sounds as sound shapes places. Sound is not commonly thought of when first observing the architecture of a space but once one takes sound into consideration it is amazing to see how much sound is influenced/influences a space in relation to the type of architecture. I think, less often we use architecture to alter our sounds as people did previously. Now we manipulate sounds within spaces with acoustical panels and materials used more so than shaping a building or room to alter sound. From reading “Hearing Architecture”, is seems that architecture wasn’t originally shaped because of sounds but architecture shaped sound.
As many of us have read and experienced, the most common building material used in old Churches and buildings around was stone which is considered a hard material. Sounds reflect off of stone because hard materials do not absorb sounds just as it does not absorb light. It was really interesting to read in the article how people shaped sounds, sounds we relate to today, based off of the architecture within a building. As the article reads, “The walls were powerful instruments that people used play on.” When I was in Europe several years ago we traveled throughout Italy visiting many old churches and Cathedrals. When standing inside one of these vast churches I immediately felt in awe because of the architecture. I felt small and insignificant in the realm of this holy world. In several of the churches there was a priest reading a sermon but rather as the article says, singing, in different tones, a sermon. At the time I did not know this rhythmic way of speaking was in relation to the shape and design of the churches. I remember that the sounds that echoed throughout the church complemented the emotions felt from seeing the architecture and made me feel as if God himself was echoing throughout the space.
As people began to realize just how much they can manipulate ones experience within a building based on the architecture and shape of a building new materials were considered along with new architectural features and design shapes. The dome is a really interesting design that helps to trap and reverberate sounds throughout a located space. For example, at the Friendly Center movie theater there is a huge circular space as one enters the theater. This circular space has a huge dome overhead. This dome creates a space that when walking through when people speak their voices are echoed. This is a pretty cool feature within the theater that serves as a nice contrast to the actually theater space. This space is usually lined with cloth walls, carpet, and cloth chairs. This keeps the movie from echoing throughout the space so it is clear to hear what is going on. The carpet and other soft materials also absorb any sound made by people within the theater so the sound of the movie can be heard.It is really interesting to see how sound and architecture correlates to give people certain experiences within spaces. Architecture serves as a good way to manipulate sounds within spaces. I believe, in previous times was more appealing the way sound was altered to give certain experiences within spaces. Now, as architecture has changed and become more contemporary, we look back at what our predecessors learned about materials, design, and sound and try to learn how we best can manipulate sound within spaces. Now we have technologies such as acoustical panels that help to direct and absorb the transfer of sound within spaces. It is interesting to see, with further research just how we can use sound and design to create experiences/ improve experiences within spaces.