Soundwalking Homes in Design Ethnography

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In this paper, we investigate the use of soundwalks in a design ethnographical study. For this study we introduced the concept of sound zones to participants from different households and used soundwalks to enable them to discuss the concept, which would, ideally, reveal design opportunities and constraints. Soundwalks have been used in urban planning to achieve insights regarding resident perceptions of the soundscape in a local environment. As an additional positive offshoot, interaction design studies has used the method to build awareness among people living in a particular environment. With this paper, we provide insights into what can be gained from using soundwalks to engage participants in an abductive process and discussion about the concept and idea of sound zone technology. We present three specific ways that recorded, self-guided soundwalks supported this process: Establishing design conditions, enabling unexpected sounds, and supporting embodied experiences. We relate this to the theoretical constructs of temporality and abduction and thereby extend the soundwalk method to support reflections about possible futures of implementing a design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sonic Studies
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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