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Spatio-sonic site survey using ambisonics recordings and VR rendering — designing soundscapes in the early planning process

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As a part of the on-going city move in Malmberget, Gällivare, the inhabitants of Malmberget mining area need not only new housing but also increased communal services. To accommodate this, the municipality is building a new public building called the Multiactivitiy building. The building will house public services such as: library, sports centre, swimming pools and recreational spaces. The central lobby space creates a hub which connects the different parts of the building and serves as a communal meeting place. The proposed building site, and the site of this study, is in the centre of downtown Gällivare. The study focuses on how ambisonics recordings can be used as a part of the site survey in the early stages of the architectural design process. The spatio-sonic qualities of the existing site are integral to the architectural design process, not only as documentation and analysis of the site’s conditions, but as an integrated design parameter (on par with lighting, climatic, contextual, and other site-specific conditions). A Virtual Reality model of the site, auralized with ambisonics recordings, is the main artefactual outcome of this study. Additional documentation of the site survey includes spatio-sonic mapping of the site plan, written (autoethnographic) impressions from the main surveyor, photographs, ambisonics recordings and a summary and analysis of respondents’ answers to questionnaires in combination with soundwalks. The conclusion of the study is that it is feasible to produce simple, virtual, auralized models that can be used as a base for sketching with sound in architecture.

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