Manual for Acoustic Planning and Urban Sound Design (MAP)

Artist Name(s) Sven Anderson
Artwork title Manual for Acoustic Planning and Urban Sound Design (MAP)
Context/Background During an information session in early 2013, Ruairi Ó Cuív (Public Arts Manager, Dublin city Council) outlined DCC’s interest in receiving project proposals that would engage with the “diverse resources of the City Council itself, not just in terms of locations and permissions, but also with respect to the range of skill-sets, knowledge and people within the organisation”. Following an open submission process, Sven Anderson’s proposed project was commissioned as part of the ‘Interacting With the City’ Per Cent for Art programme, which is the second strand of the Dublin City Public Art Programme.

This recent and innovative public art project (2014) was by American artist Sven Anderson and was curated by Dublin City Council Public Arts Manager, Ruairi Ó Cuív.

It explored the possible role of an ‘urban acoustic planner’ or ‘urban sound designer’ working within Dublin City Council (DCC). Over the course of a year, artist Sven Anderson identified strategies to promote this experimental role both as an ‘interface’ between different departments and control structures within the council, and as an ‘active intersection’ between contemporary arts practices, local authorities, and wider international support networks. His aim was that the emergent fields of urban acoustic planning and urban sound design might be better understood by planners, architects, noise control engineers, and others working within more established professions related to the planning of the built environment and the administration of the public realm.

Anderson sought to “highlight the design potential of the urban sound environment, both within the city council and in relation to the city's public”, and to activate a “deeper level of interest in the urban sound environment amongst the diverse audiences that it addresses”, resulting in a “multitude of collaborative actions that serve to develop a community of active listening in relation to the city”

The artist published a detailed overview of the project in Visual Artists’ News Sheet (July/August2014) 

Between March 2013 and August 2014, MAP resulted in:

  • The temporary integration of an artist working as urban acoustic planner as a part-time role within DCC
  • The implementation of two large-scale public urban sound installations in Dublin
  • A three-day symposium focused on urban acoustic planning hosted by DCC
  • The inclusion of a chapter on urban acoustic planning in the DCC publication: The Planners Workbook 2014
  • Public meetings and presentations for local businesses to engage with the project's outputs
  • Presentations on behalf of the project at several international conferences
  • The formulation of a conceptual platform to contextualize the project: Minor Architecture
  • Durational internal discussions concerning the potential of the project's goals
  • Consideration of the project alongside existing noise control policies
  • Ongoing discussions about the project's sustained integration within DCC
  • The development of a computational / hardware framework for low-cost distributed sound installations

Large-scale public urban sound installations:

'Continuous Drift' is a sound installation that will be permanently integrated into Meeting House Square in Dublin, Ireland. The installation acts as a framework for different sonic atmospheres that can be activated by members of the public via mobile devices, to be played back from eight loudspeakers integrated in the four retractable umbrellas that cover the square.

This project includes contributions from the following artists and collectives:

Bik Van der Pol (NL); David Blamey (UK); Karl Burke (IE); Taylor Deupree (US); FM3 (CN); Russell Hart (IE); Slavek Kwi (IE); Brandon Labelle (US); Mattin (ES); Danny McCarthy (IE); Dennis McNulty (IE); Garrett Phelan (IE); Sarah Pierce (IE); RAQS Media Collective (IN); Steve Roden (US); Dawn Scarfe (UK); Jed Speare (US); Stalker/ON (IT); Wolfgang Voigt (DE); Mark Peter Wright (UK); Miki Yui (JP/DE)

'Glass House' is a sound installation for Smithfield Plaza that listens to the films being screened in the adjacent Light House Cinema and uses the melodies from them to create a subtle sonic trace that hovers in the public space outside of the cinema – in Smithfield Plaza – while films are being screened. The title of the piece alludes to the composer John Cage’s theories equating experimental music to glass architecture, where one does not see the surface (or hear the music) but instead somehow looks (or listens) through it.

Symposium series:

Anderson produced a series of three symposium events entitled ‘Between Noise and Silence: Listening for the City’ (2 April – 8 May), hosted by Dublin City Council in collaboration with the Goethe Institute and NCAD. Over the course of three events, the potential for sound art,the urban sound environment and urban acoustic planning was explored, with presentations from both local and international artists, curators, architects, engineers, and researchers, opening with a presentation by German sound artist Christina Kubisch.

Seminar Programme:


Exploring Sound Installation and Urban Space

Wednesday April 2, 2014 / 7:00 – 9:00 PM

NCAD (Harry Clarke Lecture Theatre)


Various Perspectives Working with Sound (Art) and the City

Thursday April 3, 2014 / 2:00 – 5:00 PM

The LAB (Foley Street)


From Sound Art to Urban Sound Design and Acoustic Planning

Thursday May 8, 2014 / 2:00 – 5:00 PM

Wood Quay Venue (Dublin Civic Offices, D2)


An overview of the symposia’s aims and each session’s focus can be viewed here.

Dublin City Architects blog – Ciaran Byrne report on the ‘Listening for the City’ symposium, April 2014



Sven Anderson won the European Soundscape Award 2014 for his submission ‘Manual for Acoustic Planning and Urban Sound Design (MAP)’. The award is presented through the European Environment Agency (EEA) in cooperation with the Noise Abatement Societies in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, recognizing projects that suggest innovative approaches to issues concerning environmental noise and the changing soundscape of European cities.


Sven Anderson on Embedding Himself within DCC as an Urban Acoustic Planner / Sound Designer’, Visual Artists’ News Sheet, July / August 2014

Dublin City Architects blog – Ciaran Byrne report on the ‘Listening for the City’ symposium, April 2014

International Conferences:

Presentation on urban acoustic planning and sound design at the first ‘Urban Knights’ event at the Science Gallery in Dublin (April 16th 2013), curated by Teresa Dillon, focusing on urban innovation in Dublin and abroad.

‘Soundscape of European Cities and Landscapes COST action’ conference, Merano (18 – 21 March 2013).

‘Recomposing the City’ conference in Belfast (8 May 2014).

‘ Toward a Minor Architecture: Manual for Acoustic Planning’ - Paper & Slide Presentation presented at the ‘Art in Public Space’ conference at the FUGA Budapest Architecture Centrum (14 – 16 November 2013), organized within the research project ‘The Artist as Urban Planner – A Glance at the Cooperation of Artistic and Urban Practice’.


Sven Anderson's research situates the practice of public sound installation within the larger fields of architecture and urban design. He is pursuing a PhD at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) based on this subject. He serves on the editorial board of Interference, an online peer-reviewed sound studies journal launched in 2011. He has lectured at University College Dublin and TCD in both undergraduate and post-graduate courses, and has served as a masters’ thesis supervisor at TCD. Anderson has presented papers focused on urban sound design at conferences in Ireland, Europe, and the US. He was invited to present a paper in the Soundscape and Urban Sound Design panel at the last InterNoise conference, held in August 2012 in New York City. His past research includes collaborations with the Story Networks research groups at MediaLab Europe and with the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and the Interrogative Design Group at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (MIT).

Anderson's installations and performances are parasitical, feeding off of details of the immediate built environment, the bodies of the audience, and fragments of local history and ecology to suggest emergent, site-specific forms. He was invited to serve as the keynote artist for the Irish Sound, Science, and Technology Convocation (ISSTC) 2012, presenting a new installation entitled Two Recurring Transitions. He has created numerous sound and video installations including Streets (2009 – 2011), an interactive public artwork sited at Connolly Station, created in conjunction with Ciara O’Malley, Fire Station Artists’ Studios, and the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA). He was a founding member of the Soun.Din experimental sound and performance collective, organizing and taking part in diverse performance events between 2002 and 2004. Other improvised sound performances include recent participation in the Strange Attractor concert series in Boston, and past collaborations with Russell Hart (economic thought projects) and Slavek Kwi (Artificial Memory Trace).

Alongside his own practice, Anderson works as system designer for the artist Gerard Byrne, designing and installing control systems for multi-channel video works within diverse international gallery / exhibition spaces including The Praxes Center for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Bonniers Konsthall (Stockholm), The Hessel Museum of Art / CCS Bard (Annandale-on-Hudson), The Whitechapel Gallery (London), The Gulbenkian Modern Art Centre (Lisbon), dOCUMENTA 13 (Kassel), VOX Centre de l'Image Contemporaine (Montreal), The Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (Chicago). Anderson’s recording and design work has been featured in projects including: Public Arena (Bikvanderpol), The Metropolitan Complex (Sarah Pierce), When Things Meet (Rhona Byrne), Dressage (Bea McMahon), Here Lies in Film (Operating Theatre and Christopher Doyle), Trespass (Aoife Desmond and Seoidin O’Sullivan), Just Tell Me the Truth (Jennie Guy and Louise Cherry), Fire Practice Theatre (Susan Thomson), and Bit Symphonies (Liam O’Callaghan).


Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Ruairi Ó Cuív, Public Arts Manager, Dublin City Council
Commissioning process Selected from an Open Submission
Project commission dates March 1, 2013 - August 31, 2014
Artform Visual Arts,Architecture
Funded By Dublin City Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 10000 - 30000 euro
Project commission start date 01/03/2013
Project commission end date 31/08/2014
County Dublin
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

• Dublin City Council

• The wider public in Dublin and beyond

• The international soundscape community

• Contemporary art & sound art networks

• Experimental architectural & urbanist practicioners

• Academic research platforms linked to these communities


Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Project Lead: Sven Anderson (Artist / Urban Acoustic Planner & Sound Designer)

Dublin City Council Project Support:

  • Arts Office
  • Dick Gleeson and the Planning Department
  • Ali Grehan, Brian Swan and the City Architects Department
  • Brian McManus and the Air Quality Monitoring and Noise Control Unit
  • Ruth Dowling, Mary Mooney, Deirdre Ni Raghallaigh, Pauline Riordan, Zaira
  • Rivera, Jeremy Wales, and The Studio at DCC
  • Veronica Beausang, John Egan, Margaret Geraghty, Siobhan Maher, Mary McInerney, and Coilin O’Reilly;
  • Martin Feeney, Seamus MacSweeney and the Public Lighting Department
  • Hayley Farrell, Les Moore and the Parks Department.

Contributors to the ‘Beyond Noise and Silence’ Symposia:

María Andueza Olmedo, Christina Kubisch, Steve Larkin, Brian McManus, Dennis McNulty, Ailbhe Murphy, and Gascia Ouzounian.

Artists and Collectives Participating in ‘Continuous Drift’:

Bik Van der Pol, David Blamey, Karl Burke, Taylor Deupree, FM3, Russell Hart, Slavek Kwi, Brandon Labelle, Mattin, Danny McCarthy, Dennis McNulty, Paul O’Neill, Garrett Phelan, Sarah Pierce, RAQS Media Collective, Steve Roden, Dawn Scarfe, Jed Speare,Stalker/ON, Wolfgang Voigt, Mark Peter Wright, and Miki Yui.

External Project Support and Development:

The Goethe Institut Ireland, IAF (Irish Architecture Foundation), Light House Cinema, NCAD (The National College of Art and Design), Sean Harrington Architects, and the Temple Bar Cultural Trust

Ricardo Atienza, Anamarija Batista, Emily Bereskin, Mohammed Boubezari, Liz Burns, Caroline Cowley, Christoph Cox, Teresa Dillon, Jennie Guy, Nina Hällgren, Björn Hellström, Szilvia Kovács, Sarah Lappin, Lisa Lavia, Carina Lesky, Declan Long, Rossi McAuley, Toby O’Connor, Udo Noll, Dietmar Offenhuber, Francesco Pilla, Aisling Prior, Maria do Rosario Saraiva, Carsten Seiffarth, Carsten Stabenow, Ben Swire, Jean-Paul Thibaud, and Nathalie Weadick.



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