the map of SoundEscapessite-specific research

The map of SoundEscapes. Front view.
Two-colour RISO print.

The map of SoundEscapes. Inside layout_01.
Two-colour RISO print.
The map of SoundEscapes. Front view.
Two-colour RISO print.

The map of SoundEscapes. Inside layout_02.
Two-colour RISO print.

New River Walk’s audio documentation.

The map of SoundEscapes, The New River Walk. A collection of urban sound observation and mini-interviews about a specific site and the local community.

Since I moved to London, I have been concerned about sound pollution. The cars, the horns, the ambulances' sirens, the aeroplanes, the helicopters, the trains, the busy roads in the city center, the neighbours, and the house's thin walls. The noise was everywhere, and I was desperately looking for silence. Therefore, I conducted short research within the framework of our site-related RCA project. I was wondering if people are aware of this problem, if this affects their life and what is their solution.

The site I selected to investigate was New River Walk, a small green pathway in Islington. Researching this place's history, I found out that The New River Walk is part of the New River, a beautiful landmark of Islington. The last restoration was in the 1900s from the Friends of New River Walk and specifically in 1998 from Princess Alexandra, making it an excellent place for children and adults to appreciate walking along the leafy pathway and admiring a range of trees, the water and animals.

As I was physically exploring the place, I found out that this pathway connects two main roads St. Paul St and Canonbury St. These two main roads always have a lot of traffic, but once you enter this place, all the external noises decrease. The big and thick trees block most urban noises, and new sounds emerge from nature (river, birds, leaves, etc.).

I recorded the sounds of this place and interviewed the people that were passing by. Specifically, because I wanted to focus on their perception of the sounds, I asked them to participate in a short experiment by taking a moment and listening to the sounds around them and then draw the waveforms as they imagined them.

Regarding the interviews, it was exciting to talk to these people. I realise that they have full awareness of the sound pollution problem, they use this pathway quite often, and they feel fortunate to have this small park near their house, as an escape. They can get closer to nature and appreciate the sounds of the natural environment and calm down. I guess for me this is the kind of silence that we should seek. Erling Kagge writes in his book that we certainly need trips into the wild, but also he points out that you can find the silence everywhere,

"The silence I have in mind may be found wherever you are, if you pay attention, inside your mind, and is without cost...Walking is no grand experience, yet there is some small value to it...that time I have managed to shut out the world" 1.

I found myself agreeing with him. The key to maintaining our physical and mental health might be focusing on the small things, like appreciating the nature we can so easily access, after all.

Having all these in my mind, I came up with an idea of creating a map, "the map of SoundEscapes". This kind of map will inform locals and non-locals about this place's existence as a "sound-escape" of the city. Using the voices of the people(testimonies), this map will create awareness about the value and the need for more green areas inside big cities.

I want to expand this project in the future and find more "SoundEscapes" in London city but also in other countries too and contribute to the movement of reducing sound pollution.

1Erling Kagge, Silence, in the age of noise (Penguin Books, 2018), (pp. 72-73).

New River Walk’s visual documentation.
Parts of people’s testimonies.