The Soundscapes Oltrarno project* was developed during the 2007 MIT Digital City Design Workshop and it addressed the renewal of the Oltrarno neighborhood in Firenze by applying the soundscape approach, 2.0 new media and citizen-driven framework.
In Florence, Oltrarno is a diverse neighborhood of social and economic activity including craft workshops, universities, restaurants, churches, and piazzas. These activities produce distinctive and fascinating sounds. This sonic richness is obscured by noise pollution created by automobile traffic. In the future, the act of replacing noisy, gas-fueled vehicles with quiet city cars and scooters will allow Oltrarno to recapture its sound identity.
So, what sounds will substitute for the motors and horns?
Soundscapes Oltrarno aimed to facilitate the creation of spaces through digital technologies that can mitigate the steady drone or deafening roar of automobile traffic.
The audio-based interventions investigated in this study aimed not only to address traffic noise that obscures the sound identities of places in Oltrarno, but also to engage the burgeoning youth culture in the neighbourhood.
Soundscapes Oltrarno used sound to activate, bring content, or call attention to the small spaces, or “nooks,” throughout the neighbourhood that are often overlooked.
Finally, by harnessing digital technologies such as audio spotlights, digital music players, mobile phones, and multi-track recording software – both in the city and on the Internet – Soundsapes Oltrarno established an ‘open source’ process by which neighborhood residents and visitors could create, capture, manipulate and expose sounds in the public spaces of the city.
* A collaboration between Antonella Radicchi and MIT PhD student Francisca Rojas.