Angeliki Sioli and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou | The Sound of Architecture

25th May, 2022 in Author’s corner

We need to pay attention to sound. We need to tune our body in the sound vibrations of place, be attentive to them, and try to understand how they influence us.

In The Sound of Architecture editors Angeliki Sioli and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou explore the acoustic atmospheres of diverse architectural environments, in terms of scale, program, location, or historic period—providing an overview of how acoustic atmospheres are created, perceived, experienced, and visualized. They demonstrate that sound is a tangible element in the design and staging of atmospheres and that it should become a central part of the spatial explorations of architects, designers, and urban planners.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.
The Sound of Architecture is about how sound can affect the atmosphere of a place (room, building, or city) to such an extent that place seems to withdraw into the background. Of course, place never truly withdraws and is always the main component of any spatial experience, but sound has the powerful capacity to create such an impression, and this is what we examine in this book.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
This topic is a combination of our individual research interests that touch on experience of place and sound in place respectively. In January of 2018 we decided to submit a proposal for a session at the Society of Architectural Historian’s Annual Conference. The proposal got accepted and we chaired the session in the 2019 Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. This opportunity allowed us to combine our topics and work together for the first time after our many collaborations as undergraduate students at the Department of Architecture in Volos, Greece.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?
Definitely! There are many books on the subject we could suggest but we would like to draw the readers’ attention to two works which come from the field of philosophy and have largely inspired our work. The first one is Gernot Böhme’s Atmospheric Architectures: The Aesthetics of Felt Spaces (Bloomsbury, 2017) and the second is Tonino Griffero’s Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces (Routledge, 2016). In our introduction, “Atmospheres that Touch,” we explain in more detail how these works created a strong foundation for our book.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The process was a combination of personal and professional elements. Since we both left Greece in 2009 to pursue our doctoral studies, we have had a standing weekly online meeting to catch up and connect. When our work on the book began, part of these meetings focused on it. We would brainstorm about the nature, structure and content of the book, think how to approach and help our contributors, discuss and decide on a number of practical matters related to the publication. We would also share moments from our personal lives, as always, talk and drink coffee or tea together, laugh or cry at times, as being friends comes before being collaborators. We would always hang up with a smile and the anticipation of our next meeting. The photograph you see is actually a print screen from one of our many online encounters.   

What would you like readers to remember about your book?
That we need to pay attention to sound. We need to tune our body to the sound vibrations of place, be attentive to them, and try to understand how they influence us. Following such attunement, sound will start infiltrating design and architecture more and more.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about?Elisavet’s monograph, titled For the Rhythm: Iannis Xenakis (Athens: Nefeli, 2022), is coming out as we speak. It’s written in Greek and explores the relation between music and architecture in Iannis Xenakis’ work. Angeliki is working with Leuven University Press once again, for an edited volume titled Fissures in Walls: Architectures of Resistance. In collaboration with Nishat Awan and Kristopher Palagi, she is looking into contemporary conditions of borders and how architecture can offer ways to overcome and subvert them. The manuscript is getting ready for the review process.

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