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Quote of Note | Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter

“To communicate the artistic, social, emotional, and historical context of a space…architects almost exclusively consider the visual aspects of a structure. Only rarely do they consider the acoustic aspects. The native ability of human beings to sense space by listening is rarely recognized; indeed, some people think such an ability is unique to bats and dolphins. But sensing spatial attributes does not require special skills–all human beings do it: a rudimentary spatial ability is a hardwired part of our genetic inheritance. For example, when blindfolded, nearly all of us can approach a wall without touching it just by attending to the way the wall changes the frequency balance of the background noise. Similarly, the sounds of our footsteps hint at the location of stairs, walls, low ceilings, and open doors. To make this more obvious, walk through your home while listening to loud music through headphones; then do it again without the headphones. Notice how the clear sounds of your shoes on uncarpeted stairs provide navigational confidence, especially when your eyes are focused elsewhere. When crawling through underground caves, spelunkers can gauge the depth of a dark passageway by its resonances. But even nonspelunkers have acoustic awareness. It is available to all of us.”

-Barry Blesser and Linda-Ruth Salter in Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? (MIT Press)

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