City Sounds – City Atmospheres: The auditory legibility of urban habitats and their atmospheres

In the mediatised spaces of daily life, we have become accustomed to understanding information as something abstract, explicitly coded and symbolically legible. However, beyond the ever-present digital representations that surround us, the city presents itself sensually und physically. The sound of spaces, places and squares creates atmospheres that often influence us without our notice, but are difficult to articulate. The symposium and workshop explore the auditory atmospheres of Berlin and how cultural techniques and practices of listening can help to understand places and critically reflect on urban processes.

With this symposium, the German Academic Exchange Service would like to provide international and interdisciplinary discourses in order to demonstrate a new readability of the city. Current and former DAAD fellows in the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, musicology, design, psychology and environmental sciences are given the opportunity to expand on their own research with experimental approaches to urban practice.

Teaser 240

City Sounds – City Atmospheres: The auditory legibility of urban habitats and their atmospheres
14 June 2019, 1-7 PM

CLB Berlin im Aufbauhaus
Prinzenstraße 84.2.




Dr Birgit Klüsener (audio min. 0.00 – 7.40)
Director Scholarships
German Academic Exchange Service

Dr Sven Sappelt (audio min. 7.47 – 11.00)
Director CLB Berlin

Prof Dr Dietmar Offenhuber & Sam Auinger (audio min. 11.08 – 13.38)


Prof Dr Gernot Böhme on Atmospheres (audio min. 13.45 – 43.55)


Prof Dr Sarah Lappin “The Sound-Considered City: Reflections and Possibilities“ (audio min. 44.10 – 1.19.43)


Dr Peter Payer „Zwischen Lärm und Wohlklang: Stadtgeräusche aus historischer Perspektive“ (audio min. 1.19.45 – 1.55.11)
in German


Coffee break


Prof Juhani Pallasmaa “The integrated experience – orchestrating architecture through our neglected senses“ (audio min. 1.55.26 – 2.46.30)


Prof Dr Birgit Schneider “Environments are Invisible. Listening to 5G Atmospheres“ (audio min. 2.46.50 – 3.27.33)


Prof Dr Maren Hartmann “The sensory perceptions of missing shelter: observations in urban space“ (audio min. 3.27.48 – 3.57.05)


Coffee break


Johanna Just “Sensing Spaces – Unlocking the City with Cultural Probes“ (audio min. 3.57.27 – 4.21.58)


Abschlussdiskussion / Closing discussion and final remarks:
Prof Dr Holger Schulze Apparatus, Personae & Affects: Scenarios of an Urban Anthropology of Sound (audio min. 4.22.05 – 4.52.24)

19.30 Reception 

Keynote Speakers

Gernot Böhme is a philosopher and former professor of philosophy at the Technical University Darmstadt. He has been the director of the Institute for Practical Philosophy in Darmstadt since 2005. Böhme has become known to a wider public with his works on aesthetics, the philosophy of science and philosophical anthropology. He asserts a new humanism in architecture, stating that the human being as user must become the point of reference for construction work. “In order to experience spatial structure, one must be physically present – it is possible at best to report on this verbally. If one does succumb to this experience, then the significance – and therefore the historical importance – of a place can become the central concern.“

Sarah Lappin is an architect who teaches theory and design at Queens University Belfast. Dr Lappin is co-founder of the All-Ireland Architectural Research Group, and is the current Chair of the Steering Group of the Architectural Humanities Research Association. Her research interests include architecture and identity, modernism and its local manifestations in Ireland and twentieth century architectural history. Additionally, Dr. Lappin and Dr Gasia Ouzounian co-direct the research group “Recomposing the City: Sonic Art & Urban Architectures“, which investigates how collaborations between sound artists and architects can generate new ways of understanding, analyzing and transforming urban environments.

Juhani Pallasmaa is a Finnish architect, fomer professor of architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology, former director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the author of numerous articles on cultural philosophy, environmental psychology and theories of architecture and the arts. In his book "The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the Senses.", published in 1996, he stresses the importance of experience in architectural production, which i soften neglected in practice today.

Peter Payer is a historian, urban researcher and publicist. He runs an office for city history and works as a curator at the Vienna Museum of Technology. His lecture will deal with the social handling of soundscapes in European cities from the end of the 19th century until today. On the basis of a radically changing sound sphere, the intensification of noise discourse will be presented and the effects on the development and design of cities will be analysed. A fundamental ambivalence towards the new acoustic environment is revealed. This presents itself as a complex phenomenon that deals paradigmatically with questions of urban development, the critique of culture and civilization, but also with social and economic conflicts. His keyote will be held in German.

Birgit Schneider is a media scholar and currently professor for Media Ecology at the University of Potsdam. Previously, she was Visiting Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich and Senior Fellow at the International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy in Weimar. Her research interests include media ecologies, scientific images, the history and present of data visualizations and in particular climate visualizations inbetween science, aesthetic and politics.
"Digitalization will come – this is the mantra of our society. ... In the future, the milieu in which we are immersed and which penetrates us will always be an electric field which flows through us.“  


Sam Auinger is a sonic thinker, composer and sound-artist based in Berlin. With his collaborator Bruce Odland he investigates the theme of "hearing perspective" through large-scale public sound installations. Auinger works with city planners and architects and speaks at international symposiums on urbanism, architecture, media, and the senses. He was visiting professor at the University of the Arts in Berlin, associate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and lecturer at the Art, Culture and Technology program at MIT.

Maren Hartmann is professor of Communication and Media Sociology at the Berlin University of the Arts. In her doctorate she dealt with early cyberspace and the user metaphors located within it (published under the title: "Technologies and Utopias. The cyberflaneur and the experience of being online"). This was followed by works on media appropriation, in particular the concept of domestication, and on the question of mobile media, urban contexts and materialities.

Johanna Just is one of the initiators of The Bakerloos experimental architecture studio and teaches Undergraduate Architecture at Brookes University. She currently works part time as designer and researcher at Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg Ltd where she helps to deliver large scale installations and artworks for Museums such as the Centre Pompidou and Milan Design Triennial. She is interested to explore the potential of process driven design methods for the build environment. In her thesis, she developed a new architectural language that is based on associations to challenge existing preservation concepts.

Dietmar Offenhuber is a professor of Art + Design and Public Policy at Northeastern University. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT, Master degrees from the MIT Media Lab and the TU Vienna. His research focuses on the relationship between design, technology, and governance. Dietmar is the author of the award-winning monograph “Waste is Information” (MIT Press), works as an advisor to the United Nations and published books on the subjects of Urban Data, Accountability Technologies and Urban Informatics.

Holger Schulze is full professor in musicology at the University of Copenhagen and principal investigator at the Sound Studies Lab. His research focuses on the cultural history of the senses, sound in popular culture and the anthropology of media. Recent book publications: Sound as Popular Culture (2016, ed.), The Sonic Persona (2018), Sound Works (2019).


A production of the DAAD in cooperation with CLB Berlin. Funded by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Project Management: Kathleen Clancy
Texts: Sam Auinger, Kathleen Clancy, Dietmar Offenhuber, Sven Sappelt and contributors to the symposium
Design: Stefanie Rau,