Acoustic Cities: London and Beirut / by Institute for Global Prosperity


In a city in which noise can often be all-encompassing, how can we find ways to listen to things that are hidden, stories that are unheard, and forms of life at risk of disappearing?

Acoustic Cities: London and Beirut is a collection of works by artists and scholars from Lebanon and the UK: Joan Baz, John Bingham-Hall, Gerard Gormley, Nathalie Harb, Omaya Malaeb, Nadim Mishlawi, Merijn Royaards, Youmna Saba, Mhamad Safa, and Christabel Stirling. It is a collaboration between the Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL; the RELIEF Centre; Recomposing the City; Theatrum Mundi and Optophono.

As part of the Bartlett 100 Centenary events series, we are excited to launch this Optophono edition, that sounds out the spatial traces of memories, cultures, and bodies ingrained into the physical fabric of these two cities.

Each of the works encodes a methodology for listening and making audible things that have otherwise been hidden or silent - whether through activating spaces acoustically, listening technologically beyond the surface of the daily lifeworld, asking for testimonies otherwise unspoken.

The works offer listeners ways of hearing the richness of their acoustic environments, and language to challenge its problems. In doing so, they will help to frame sound as a shared concern and a shared resource to design and to benefit from.

This event is co-presented by Optophono, the Institute for Global Prosperity UCL, the RELIEF Centre, Recomposing the City and Theatrum Mundi. It is part of Bartlett 100, a year-long celebration in 2019 to mark 100 years since the naming of the faculty.

It follows on from Recomposing the City and Theatrum Mundi’s 2017 exploratory workshop ‘Urban Sound and the Politics of Memory’. It forms part of the RELIEF Centre’s Cultural Committee programme, which began work on sound in 2018 with ‘Beirut Soundscape’.