The Sound of Architecture book includes chapter by Interim Director Federica Goffi

November 1, 2022

A new book, The Sound of Architecture: Acoustic Atmospheres in Place, by Angeliki Sioli and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou, contains a chapter on architecture and music by Professor Federica Goffi, interim director of the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism.


The book, published by Leuven University Press, features essays by 19 contributors who explore how sound and its atmospheres transform architecture and space.


The essays demonstrate that sound is a tangible element in the design and staging of atmosphere and that it should become a central part of the spatial explorations of architects, designers, and urban planners.


Dr. Goffi wrote Chapter 10, Chromesthesia and the Multiverse of Listening in Music and Architecture: Luigi Nono in Collaboration with Renzo Piano (pp. 145-160).


In it, she discusses the relationship between Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono (1924–1990), architect Renzo Piano, and philosopher Massimo Cacciari and their collaboration in Nono’s last composition — Prometheus: Tragedy of Listening (1981-1985).

In Nono’s words, Venice was the acoustic multiverse in which he operated, and water played a key role. Sounds reaching from different directions are the signs of life, inviting work and participation.


Goffi says that the ability to listen to spaces reflects the greater ability to participate in humanity’s strife for social justice, emblematically represented in the figure of Prometheus. Listening is part of ethical engagement with societal struggles.

Extract from the text by Prof. Federica Goffi:


This chapter addresses Piano’s and Nono’s early multisensory sketches, drawings, and scores, analyzing questions of spatiality concerning the unique character of the “mobility of sound,” as articulated through Nono’s musical experimentation.


As will be demonstrated, the awareness of the aural qualities of architecture is apparent in Piano’s sketches for the Ark, the musical vessel that he designed for Prometheus’ original performance.


Goffi explains that “Listening can be about collectivity and collaboration. The architecture of listening refers to how listening is construed and constructed.”



Prof. Goffi thanks Nuria Schoenberg Nono, Prof. Avise Vidolin, sound director, Live Electronics performer of Prometheus, as well as architect Shunji Ishida retired partner at RPBW who collaborated with Renzo Piano in the realization of the Ark, for their support and advise during the writing of this essay.


A special thanks goes to the FONDAZIONE ARCHIVIO LUIGI NONO ONLUS and the Renzo Piano Foundation (RPF).


Finally, she thanks photographer Marcello Mencarini for sharing his memories about his encounter with Nono.

About the book


The Sound of Architecture: Acoustic Atmospheres in Place explores the acoustic atmospheres of diverse architectural environments in terms of scale, program, location, or historic period—providing an overview of how acoustic atmospheres are created, perceived, experienced, and visualized.


Angeliki Sioli and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou said: “We need to pay attention to sound. We need to tune our body in the sound vibrations of place, be attentive to them, and try to understand how they influence us.”. Read a Q&A with the editors.


The book contributors: Anna Ulrikke Andersen (University of Oxford), Timothy Carey (Independent Scholar), Ricardo L. Castro (McGill University), Joseph L. Clarke (University of Toronto), Carlotta Darò (ENSA Paris-Malaquais), Michael de Beer (Independent Scholar), James Deaville (Carleton University), Ross K. Elfline (Carleton College), Clemens Finkelstein (Princeton University), Federica Goffi (Carleton University), Klaske Havik (TU Delft), Paul Holmquist (Louisiana State University), Pamela Jordan (University of Amsterdam), Elisavet Kiourtsoglou (University of Thessaly), Alberto Pérez-Gómez (McGill University), Cécile Regnault (Lyon School of Architecture), Angeliki Sioli (TU Delft), Karen Van Lengen (University of Virginia), Michael Windover (Carleton University).


About Federica Goffi

Federica Goffi is a Professor of Architecture, Interim Director, and Co-Chair of the PhD and MAS program in architecture at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism at Carleton University.


She holds a PhD from Virginia Tech in Architecture and Design Research. She published book chapters and journal articles on the threefold nature of time-weather-tempo.


She authored and edited several books. Her most recent publications include her edited volume: The Routledge Companion to Architectural Drawings and Models: From Translating to Archiving, Collecting and Displaying (Routledge 2022), and the edited special issue of the Routledge journal Architecture and Culture, titled And Yet It Moves: Ethics, Power and Politics in the Stories of Collecting, Archiving and Displaying of Architectural Drawings and Models (September 2021).


She is author of “Carlo Scarpa and the eternal canvas of silence,” published online by arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, Cambridge University Press: 21 May 2007.


She holds a Dottore in Architettura from the University of Genoa, Italy. She is a licensed architect in her native country, Italy.