Atelier TM is a group of city-makers and sound-makers working together to mutually enrich their crafts by forging shared questions and new modes of collaboration. It forms part of the Global Cities research chair at the Collège d’études mondiales, held jointly by Saskia Sassen and Richard Sennett, and is therefore based within the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris, and part of the international Theatrum Mundi network.
Atelier TM responds to several issues in the way the urban is described, imagined, and ultimately designed. Firstly, that urban design is an overwhelmingly visual practice, carried out through screen-based computer-aided design and evaluated through images that privilege visually-replicable forms. Secondly, that experimentation in urban design tends to be focused on products rather than processes. Sound and music offer valuable ways to work past these issues. Sound emerges from the way spaces are used: it is produced through the movement, communication, friction, and resonance, of bodies in and against architectural space. Music, as a craft, involves distinct social and technical forms that are alien to the practice of urbanism: non-verbal cooperation, rehearsal, improvisation.
How, then, could acoustic terms and techniques be used to describe places and their social character? In doing so, can urbanism find invisible ways to intervene in the city and measures of value beyond the visual, privileging embodied use over fixed design? Can aspects of musical craft such as rehearsal and improvisation be translated into the practice of urban design? Would this help designers find new modes of collaboration and cooperation with other practitioners and with citizens? Finally, in the context of Paris’ attempts to overcome its separation from its suburbs, what is revealed about the spatial politics of the city in looking at its musical cultures?
Atelier TM will build a group of fellows in Paris from across the worlds of urbanism, architecture, sound, and music, in both creation and research. They will have access to monthly workshops in the form of discussions, site visits, sharing of works-in-progress, and co-creation. These will bring together the local fellows with guest practitioners and facilitators from elsewhere. Fellows will also be invited to take part in informal working sessions using multi-media facilities at FMSH to develop projects or techniques together. When ideas or projects emerge, that fellows would like to share with a wider public, Atelier TM will help to disseminate these through a seminar series titled Re-crafting urbanism, taking place at FMSH or partner projects