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Sonic Playgrounds

Play has an important role in children’s activities. It happens at home, in school and in many other indoor and outdoor places. Physical contexts, artefacts and materials have a big influence on the way how children are enabled and encouraged in their play activities, especially in outdoor playgrounds. Designers and educators focus on formal and visual aspects of the playground, neglecting the potential of sound. Although sonic activities are common everyday phenomena in playgrounds and take an important role in children’s development, there is a lack of knowledge how to design sound for urban playgrounds. With the interdisciplinary project Sonic Playground we would like to change this situation by developing methods, tools and guidelines which will emphasise the role of sonic interactions on urban playgrounds.

We argue that a joint effort of design and pedagogy is needed to achieve this goal. We want to explore the roles of sound in play activities thereby contributing to provisions to increase sonic competence of children as sonically aware citizens. The Sonic Playground project involves all parties responsible for enabling sonic playful learning, being it parents, caretakers, city authorities, urban planners and playground designers.

Thus, in order to approach the development of principles, methods and tools, we propose to follow a participatory research through design approach complemented with ethnographic research and expert reviews. The expected outcomes of the project are:

  • Integrated design and pedagogy epistemologies and methods

  • A series of case studies bringing interactive sound to playgrounds

  • A conceptual framework for design and pedagogy of interactive sonic playgrounds.

With this, we aim to set foundation for design and research of sonic playgrounds.

We have conducted a pilot study at the Bauspielplatz in Zürich Affoltern and are currently avaiting for results regarding funding from Swiss National Foundation.

Team: Daniel Hug, Moritz Kemper and Karmen Franinovic

Partners: University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, School for Teacher Education (PH FHNW): Chair for Music Education and Chair for Teaching Development at Pre-Primary and Primary School Level (in cooperation with 'Lernwerkstatt Spiel')


Research