Day 24 was the official start of our studio week. For this week, we were focusing on West Park in Bochum. West Park is a post-industrial park that, for the most part, has been redeveloped. However, one section of it remains untouched. Somewhat behind the park are several train tracks, of which only one remains active. The tracks are not used by trains, but many people still use the area to hang out, or to cross over to the residential community located nearby (which is not safe due to the one active train track). Our goal for the studio was to explore the site, record information regarding the soundscapes of the site, and then re-design the train track portion of the site with a certain goal in mind.
For this first day, we walked around the site and explored the already developed portions of the park. This gave us a good idea of the theme of the existing park and the elements they utilized, such as specific materials, colors, and plants. This was important to note because our re-design of the train track portion should be done in a way so that it matches the existing theme of the park.
Today, we were back at West Park. We met with Bryce, who is from Rutgers but is doing soundscape research in Germany. He explained to us what his work focuses on and what we will be doing at West Park. He told us about soundscapes and what they tell us about different places. Different types of sounds (for example, sounds made by people vs. sounds made by nature) will have different frequencies, so special technology can help us record these sounds and then differentiate them by frequency. He also talked to us about how plant buffers are able to make noisy places quieter or at least prevent sound from traveling as much. It was all very fascinating, for none of our projects are Rutgers have focused on sound in this way before.
We were split into groups and given a hand-held device to record sound with. We were then assigned several locations to record sound at, and at each location, we would have to wait in silence for three minutes in order for the device to get an accurate reading of the surrounding soundscape. It was honestly very refreshing to be forced to sit in complete silence and just take in the surrounding environment. After all the groups had collected the sound data, Bryce would analyze the data to identify areas of the park with the highest levels of noise pollutions and what types of soundscapes existed throughout the park. It was a really interesting exercise and we were all curious to see the results.
The next few days will be spent designing, so I’ll check back in after our group presentations!