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Last on

Mon 16 Mar 2009 21:00 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 16 March 2009

Science broadcaster Professor Trevor Cox explores the science of aural architecture - the relationship between sound, design and human experience.

Building design and city planning is dominated by the visual. But a new science has emerged which explores the relationship between design, acoustics and the human experience, called aural architecture. Every space has its own unique soundscape, created by a combination of the overall design, the materials used in construction and the way that space is used by humans.

Until very recently, few architects ever gave much thought to what affect that soundscape might have on the people inhabiting the space, be they office workers, school pupils, teachers or shoppers. This has resulted in railways stations where train announcements are unintelligible, restaurants where you have to shout to be heard and open-plan schools in which teaching is all but impossible. More recently, research has shown that a poor aural experience can have a considerable negative effect on how we feel and behave, even at a subconscious level.

Professor Cox hears for himself how some spaces 'speak' and meets architects, designers and researchers hoping to transform our aural experience for the better.

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