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Soundscapes of Belonging

Ivan Meyer


Parish Priests:

Tuliza Sindi, Muhammad Dawjee


19 - The Act of Service

Marie Thompson in her book Beyond Unwanted Sound: Noise, Affect, and Aesthetic Moralism, argues that silence is a luxury available only to those who can afford it (Thompson 2014). She unpacks how being able to purchase and own sound renders it an object that is able to be defended and protected. It puts sound in the realm of binaries, differentiating noise from quiet, makers and receivers of noise, and wanted and unwanted sounds even though sound is not inherently good or bad.

Historically, sound as an architectural material was used as a territory -making and -defining tool, as can be seen in South Africa’s Apartheid spatial planning strategies, and today, sound policing has become a staple practice in historically white-designated suburbs.

Where the private realm enables the ownership and control of sound, the public realm limits that capacity. Sound in the public realm becomes a lesser regulated space of negotiation and tension between belonging and non-belonging. So, what then does it mean to experience privacy in the public realm, or a sense of community, or comfort?

The project explores belonging within the public realm – in Church Square, Pretoria – through the use of sound as a building material.