The Earwitness endeavours to explore the sonic qualities of the city, the spaces that sounds occupy and possibilities of how these spaces can be inhabited. The ability of sound to travel around corners and through walls led to a process of urban exploration within the Pretoria Central Business District that identified a diverse range of ‘inbetween’ spaces that are not traditionally seen as inhabitable. The diversity of these spaces led to the development of an architectural strategy based upon the chair as a spatial device. Its ability to be interpreted on an individual level and employed in the widest range of scenarios makes the chair an ideal candidate to respond to the unique acoustic qualities of the spaces identified. The chair is thus seen as the earwitness to the acoustic qualities of the city and, through a process of transformation and mutation, begins to respond spatially to the personalities of the spaces encountered, taking on mythical personalities of its own. Through occupying the inbetween spaces of the city block, the chairs become a subversive inhabitant of the city – locating spaces that can be listened to. The investigation of the chair as a spatial device is grounded within a sonic festival scenario for the city of Pretoria that aims to re-establish the relationship between the user, sound and the spaces of the city. The festival is operated from a proposed infill typology that completes a more traditionally architectural element to the thesis, whilst maintaining the initial conceptual integrity of the exploration. The process of critical investigation and exploration followed in the thesis aims to reveal methods with which architectural-acoustic installations can promote user engagement with, and awareness, of the city. The Earwitness thus explores the fictions and fragments inherent in the experience of the city through probing the effects of audio culture and architecture. It hosts a set of curious confrontations between the field of the real and imaginary through a collection of quasi-cultural artefacts. These artefacts range from object to installation to event and engage the auditory aspects of the city – questioning the role of design in an immersive world in which freak mutations and mistakes are the norm, perhaps even the key, to success. Copyright
Dissertation (MInt(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2010.