Earlier this week I had a meeting in a noisy, crowded and loud Starbucks. Of course, this is not unusual at all. I already wrote earlier about the difficulty in finding places to be able to work at for a short time, the noise is one aspect that makes that difficult.
As we spoke, the level of noise in this particular place came up. The man I was meeting said that one of his main irritants of living in Shanghai is the noise pollution. And he’s right: there is noise and sound coming from everywhere all the time.
Today, I visited the Power Station of Art for an exhibition on design and its function in urbanization and cities. It was a lot bigger – and more interesting – than I had expected so unfortunately I couldn’t see all of the exhibition. It showed mostly different concepts and ideas on how cities can be designed to be more livable, especially in the Chinese context. These ideas were presented in the form of models, video installations, 3D or photography and included work from Chinese designers and artists, but also quite a few Dutch artists (including Daan Roosegaarde and the Go West Project), Japanese designers and a range of other international names. Topics covered included mobility, urban structure, production, etc.
But back to noise. This was also one of the parts of the exhibition. The explanation alongside one of the designs read:
If harmony metaphorically describes a society in unity, then noise could be seen as dissidence, or resistance to an otherwise smooth system. Nowhere is the mirage of harmony and contention to noise more clearly expressed than in public plazas in China […]