August 20, 2019 - Theatrum Mundi - New publication: Sonic Urbanism
e-flux Architecture
August 20, 2019
August 20, 2019

Theatrum Mundi

© &beyond / Theatrum Mundi.

New publication: Sonic Urbanism

Publication launch: September 28, 7–10pm, including a panel discussion, performance, and copies of the publication

Attention is increasingly turning to the soundscapes of cities as materials to be shaped through design, as cultural commons generating physical wellbeing but also as sites of conflict and violence to be regulated.

What we hear and what we see are different. Sound does not adhere to the same boundaries as light; it travels through and around space in different ways, it has physical as well as informational affect. The way we participate in the public realm through speaking and appearing might have radically different implications. How would a city be shaped if audibility were the fundamental condition for participation in public? What if hearing one another rather than seeing one another was the basis for sociability? What if the acoustics of an urban space were more important than its appearance?

With these questions in mind Theatrum Mundi has launched the new annual colloquium Crafting a Sonic Urbanism. The first event in Paris in 2018 gathered scholars and practitioners working in both sound and spatial form to explore how the practice of urbanism could look beyond the soundscape as an object and build sonic concerns, methods and modes of thinking into its ways of working. A sonic urbanism, as we imagined it, would be one that uses listening, scoring and performing as tools for design processes. This would be an urbanism that relies on cross-disciplinary collaborations and challenges the visually-biased epistemologies that fundamental assumptions about urban design have been based upon. 

Theatrum Mundi and &beyond are excited announce a brand new publication on Sonic Urbanism. It invites speakers in our 2018 colloquium to share essays on sonic communities, urban composition, acoustic architectures, phonographic methods, and public performance projects. The publication is free to download here and print copies are available by contacting info [​at​]   

Contributors: Sara AdhityaNathan BelvalJohn Bingham-HallCaroline Claus Burak PakAlexandra Lacroix & Marta GentilucciFrédéric MathevetSharon PhelanRichard Sennett, and Justinien Tribillon.  

Launch party
Theatrum Mundi and &beyond are hosting a publication launch party at IKLECTIK Art Lab, London, on Saturday, September 28. Urban designer Sara Adhitya and composer Sharon Phelan will join &beyond’s George Kafka and Theatrum Mundi’s John Bingham-Hall for a roundtable discussing why sonic urbanism matters politically and socially now. Sharon Phelan will present a new live work, At the threshold, and the evening will culminate with drinks and a music selection by saxophonist and composer Ben Vince. Tickets include a print publication—reserve here.

New call for contributions
The second iteration of Crafting a Sonic Urbanism will take place at Campus Condorcet in Paris on December 13, 2019, in partnership with the research centre IRIS (EHESS). Focusing this time on “the political voice” the colloquium invites both scholars and practitioners to present research, or works of sonic or spatial creation. It will focus on the ways that voices, and their enmeshment with architecture, infrastructure and technology, are understood. In asking “does the city have speech?,” our keynote speaker Saskia Sassen provides the stimulus. As Sassen puts it, the city is a space where the powerless can have presence, politics, a voice. How can urban design work to amplify this voice? The call for contributions is open until September 8, and a subsequent publication will follow in 2020.


Theatrum Mundi is an independent research centre operating from both London and Paris, which aims to expand the crafts of city-making through collaboration between artists and urbanists. Sonic Urbanism is one of a number of diverse projects currently underway, each of which takes multiple forms including workshops, commissions, exhibitions, research, talks, performances, and publications.

&beyond is a transdisciplinary publishing collective of editors, writers and graphic designers founded in Berlin in 2016. The collective members working on Sonic Urbanism were: Diana Portela (graphic design), George Kafka, Sophie Lovell, Fiona Shipwright and Rob Wilson (editorial).

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