Soniferous Garden: exploring the reciprocity between architecture and sound

Charis Yang

Soni garden section intro
Sectional Drawing of Soniferous Garden

Aural architecture is a hybrid of physical and virtual (aural) spaces of an existing place that produces emotional and behavioural responses by its inhabitants. According to R. Murray Schafer, a soniferous garden is a place of acoustic delights and an aural space for a sensory retreat. Schafer also argues that the over-domination of visual senses has reduced hearing abilities. The observed phenomena speak to the importance of auditory experience in architectural design. The soniferous garden challenges 'sound’ as an architectural material during the design process. It explores the reciprocal relationship between its space and the sound it produces, while engaging sensory awareness in the inhabitants. The intention of aural perception guides the audience to utilise sounds in places to have a more pleasant sound experience.

“There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. ”

—Claude Debussy.

Should one notice how much time they practice active listening during the day? It is primarily passive listening. Sound becomes noise when unwanted; however, sound can be a delightful experience if used properly. This thesis discusses the manipulation of landscape and soundscape by discovering the potential of a sound approach.

Watercolour visualisations of Claude Debussy's piano composition 'Children's Corner'
10 a5
Six individual concept models were made by analysing one composition feature by applying music and spatial transposition methods. These include the visualisation of rhythm, pattern, articulation, and harmony in music, and reinterpreted spatially to lighting, porosity, volume, and form.
Concept models

The proposed soniferous garden at a railway station car park encourages people to be conscious of the aural experience and indulge in a platform to craft and experiment with sound and noises. The design was inspired by an immersive sound walk experience which, to Schafer, is an ear-training exercise. It captures the moment of walking out to a water dock, where the sound of water is seemingly amplified and generates an immersive experience.

Axofinal a1
Soniferous garden designed with different sound devices responding to the context.
Elements sound
The aim is to explore aural spaces that challenge the audience’s auditory senses and note the significance of sound through sensuous spatial elements.
Workshop a3
Workshop Space
Librar a3
Library Space with Tree Listening Tower
Chimes garden a3
Chimes Garden at Rooftop