Acoustic Field

The British Columbia Truth and Reconciliation Archive

comprehensive design studio \ UBC SALA \ 2014
book prize, SALA Projects 2014
collaborator: Eric Lajoie \ advisor: Matthew Soules

Inspired by the oral histories and storytelling traditions of North American First Nations cultures, in opposition to the Western practices of written record keeping and archiving, Acoustic Field imagines the British Columbia Truth and Reconciliation Archive as a territory of indoor and outdoor aural environments. The building is situated in a sunken garden between the two major libraries of the University of British Columbia. Sheltered by the elevated archive, the ground plane of the site constitutes an acoustic landscape in which there are five autonomous and acoustically focused chambers, whose experiential qualities are tuned for the activities of listening, recording, storytelling, reflection and gathering.
The archival storage and ancillary programs are housed in an expansive box, raised off the ground on concrete piers and accessed through glass lobbies enveloping these cores. The volume of the archive is punctured by a series of courtyards, some of which are occupied by the acoustic chambers, while others provide natural lighting and space for gardens. Against the backdrop of the archive’s silence, the acoustic chambers and the surrounding landscape provide a gradient of aural experiences that range from spaces for encountering oral histories related to Truth and Reconciliation, to spaces for celebrating the continued importance of oral traditions in the present.