Listening to the City: Experimental Media for Climate Futures, Materials, Sound, & Sensorial Experiences


Aleyda Rocha


Guest Invites TBA


duration 12 days x 10 working hours = 120 hours

eligibility Bachelor, Master Professional

keywords Design Futures, Political Ecology, Design Research

course format on-campus


course description
How do artists, designers, and activists use sustainability, biohacking, sound, design, or sonic interventions and storytelling for liveable urban spaces? The major goal of this workshop series is to give participants a sense they can learn about, critique, and challenge current socio-technological ecosystems and approach technologies from different perspectives from art, sound, and future dreaming. Foregrounding the importance of empathy and practices of care, we will discuss the effects of taking a more mindful and generous approach to the places we live and our neighbors.

Our listening reality is intimate, tactile,  spatial, social, and temporal. Using creative, analog, and digital means of bending the sense of hearing, students are invited to explore the idea of a sound-driven virtual reality. Listening through the ear and vibrations through the body, the group will devise original strategies for blurring the boundary between the virtual and the real.

In this course, we will apply visual methodologies to the theme of climate futures using science fiction as a speculative storytelling genre, as a means to look forward and (re-)imagine the future in a way that is unbound by today’s limited possibilities. As a tool for future speculation, science fiction is used by governments to imagine terrorist threats of the future and by tech companies to try and develop the seemingly impossible technologies imagined in movies and literature.

The climate change debate similarly resides in a realm of forecasting and modeling of the future: where are we headed if we do not change our ways, what will disappear, which parts of the world are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, what is at stake for the near and distant future? These questions are of course important and crucial to find solutions. But certain images from scientific literature (the scary graphs), journalism (the polar bears), or even the entertainment industry (the tornadoes), are presented to us over and over again until they stick. To overcome the so-called apocalypse fatigue, researchers, activists, and educational institutions point out the need to find new stories and images for people to engage with climate change.

in this course, you will be introduced to

Participants will learn how different technologies from, recognition technologies to biotechnologies work and also impact people and our environment. They will also engage with methods such as speculative design, sound art, and mapping techniques to learn about new collective actions for the future. Finally, everyone will reflect on the interdependencies of our world and develop critical thinking toward new world views and solutions.

  • Speculative Design and Prototyping
  • Explore the architecture and mysteries of the hearing apparatus.
  • Create your binaural recording rig (dummy ears)
  • Learning various processes through sound adaptation
  • Investigating how sound is perceived within different environments
  • An amazing network and community of like-minded creative beings and potential future collaborators in the field of sound installation, virtual reality sound design, and audio experience design.
  • Creation of final sound experience open to the public on the final day of the program.

learning outcomes
  • Awareness of the main sustainability issues related to this field
  • Understand the principles of scaling the ideas towards innovations and even commercialization
  • Experience of an interdisciplinary working environment in practice
  • Key policy development paths
  • Discuss the key similarities, differences, and potential synergies of design research and sustainability transitions with particular references to the theoretical frameworks and methods deployed in each field.
  • Critically analyze emerging syntheses and integrations of the two fields.
  • Conceptualize new theoretical and methodological insights that can inform the emerging intersections between design research and sustainability transitions.
  • Develop and apply skills for the co-creation of knowledge across disciplines and with stakeholders in transdisciplinary contexts of sustainability transition projects.
  • Reflect on your role within a multidisciplinary group and relevant professional contexts.


  • Visual + Sonic Methods: Sonic fiction, Collective Radio, Unmapping.

  • qualitative and quantitative Interviews, Speculative Design, Art based Research, Co-Design, Co-Creation

tools and technologies

  • Prototypes, mockups, research, civil society survey, report, blog posts, GitHub repository, Zenodo Community, Zotero Knowledge Base.

workload and grading

  • Pre-course reading: reports and/or open-access articles on the topic (readings will be confirmed to registered students)

  • Pre-assignment: a study of climate impacts in your area

  • Contact hours: lectures, workshops, mentoring, discussions

  • Post-assignment: practical adaptation and mitigation strategy for your area

Total of 160hrs (6 ECTS).

The course is graded as pass/fail.

target audience

This program invites University degree students with a curiosity to think critically about the ever-evolving relationship with climate change to connect and collaborate with a group of like-minded creators. No prior experience is needed.

applying to the course

The course accepts applications from University degree students, exchange students, artists, professionals, and other lifelong learners. The minimum prerequisite is a completed bachelor’s degree in any discipline or an alternate, significant experience (over 5 years) of professional practice. Special circumstances may also be considered.

University students will apply through the application form linked on this page. Exchange students will receive information about applying to the course after being nominated by their home university. Lifelong learners, students from other institutions, and partner university students without exchange student status, please apply through the application form linked on this page.

Please include the following in your application:

  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • Study transcripts

The motivation letter should connect with this course's subject matter. Please include mentions of how you plan to use the skills this course builds, what you wish to gain from the course, and what you can bring to it.

course outline
Week 1: We will begin by getting to know everyone, and understanding what drives each other and our motivations for joining the class.

Week 2: Digitising Nature.

Week 3: We embark on collaborative work and begin capturing our stories. Additionally, participants will be introduced to using Blender as a tool to composite generated assets with other images or videos. We will also explore making our images talk with audio speech generation.

Week 4: This week sees the final development of your personal and collaborative projects, culminating in a group screening at the program’s end to celebrate this month-long experimental journey and the works produced during this time. Creation of collective sound experiences open to the public on the final day of the program.