A Crash Course in Urban Sound Design

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
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Urban Sound Design is an emerging sub-discipline within urban planning and design. Discussions about sound in our environment tend to focus on the problematic attributes, such as the noise of traffic and industry. Urban Sound Design rather considers sound as one of the design parameters within urban planning, which results in an urban soundscape that is meaningful both in a spatial, temporal and cultural sense. It is a typical multi-disciplinary subject that includes urban design, (landscape) architecture, sound design, acoustics, semantics, perception and human geography. This course forms a both theoretical and practical introduction into Urban Sound Design.

Many misconceptions arise from the unawareness of sound perception and how it influences how we experience our surroundings. Unconsciously sound can set the mood of a place and change its meaning. Additionally, the existing sound can both facilitate and supplement the required activities at a certain location or, on the opposite, make them impossible. Activities themselves generate sounds that may or may not fit the area. While we design buildings and cities in the three dimensions of space, we often forget about the notion that we move through space in the fourth dimension, that of time. Sound supports the perception and understanding of time in the environment. The visual impressions of a location are enhanced by acoustic clues and the awareness of adjacent spaces and events can only become apparent through sound. The sound of a location also plays an important role in defining social and cultural cohesion.

The course addresses all these topics. Besides lectures on the theory and principles of urban sound, the program focuses on hands on experience with evaluation of the soundscape and actual urban sound design for a new development area in the center of the city of Utrecht. Participants will work in a small team on a design assignment related to an actual design case in Utrecht. One of the involved urban designers will give a guest lecture and an explanatory tour through the area.

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

Course director

Kees Went & Hans Ophuis


Course leaders are Hans Ophuis, landscape architect and urban designer, and Kees Went, composer and sound designer.

Target audience

All students and (upcoming) professionals working within the disciplines indicated by the tags and/or with an interest in sound and urban space.

Study load

The program includes lectures, excursions and a practial design assignment. It involves 10 days (2 x 5) with an attendance of 6 to 8 hours per day. During a few parts of the design process the teams will work independently on the assignment and will be evaluated by the course leaders at the end of the day.


Course fee:
Course + course materials
Housing fee:

Housing through: Utrecht Summer School.


Participants are asked to bring their own laptop to work on during the course.

For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

  • Motivation Letter

More information

Kees Went | E: keeswent@planet.nl


Application deadline: 07 August 2020