Graduate Research Colloquium: Ruth Elizabeth Bernatek (University of Oxford)

This talk will address both the existence and the possibilities of an urban sonic architecture. I will introduce works, objects, and actions that are formed or performed at an architectural scale, and which engage materially or conceptually with the urban through sound.  For example, works that foreground auditory experiences of the city, works that employ sonic processes to confront problems about how we might know and engage with the urban, and works that are propositional in nature, and which suggest new ways of spatialising the city through sonic or audible transactions. Developed from my current research with SONCITIES at Oxford, my objective is to engage an expanded vocabulary that connects ideas of urban sonic architecture to both built environment and musical discourses in a practically meaningful and critically sensitive way.  Finally, whilst attempting to define what urban sonic architecture is, I propose of what urban sonic architecture might potentially be – how it can operate as a counter practice, or counter narrative within the city. 

Free to attend, register here.

Ruth Elizabeth Bernatek is an architectural historian and postdoctoral research fellow at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford, where she works on the ERC project titled “Sonorous Cities: Towards a Sonic Urbanism”.   Before joining Oxford, she taught as a lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (2017-2021), where she also completed her PhD in Architecture and Urban History and Theory in 2021.  Her PhD dissertation investigated sound in the built environment, with a particular focus on audiovisual architecture since 1950 – specifically the Polytope de Montréal (1967) and Polytope de Mycenae (1978) by architect and composer Iannis Xenakis.  Her doctoral project was awarded full funding by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (AHRC) and was further supported by a Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Collection Research Grant (2016), and the Bartlett Architecture Research Fund (2016 & 2018).  In 2017, Ruth co-founded the Bartlett doctoral research network “Sound Making Space” with Dr Merijn Royaards, which she also led until November 2020.  The networks’ regular research seminars, workshops, and events brought together international sound artists, composers, performers, architects and curators to share and discuss their research, experience and expertise.  In this role she has undertaken curatorial collaborations with the Royal Academy of Arts (2017 & 2018), Corsica Studios and the Architecture Film Festival (2017), Photolanguage and the Langham Research Centre (2020).  More recently, her academic and curatorial projects have explored collaborative research practices and interdisciplinary modes of writing, model-making, film, and exhibition to engage critically and creatively with sonic architectures, sound archives, and their sites and histories.  She has presented and screened her research at a number of international conferences and has published articles in peer-reviewed journals focused on history and theory of architecture and sound studies.

About the series:
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Marinu Leccia and Judith Valerie Engel organise the series. Presentations are followed by a discussion and virtual drinks reception. Free and open to all Music Faculty students and members. If you would like more information, please email or