Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2009 - page 4

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“Hörstadt” – A project of Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture

Hörstadt, or "Acoustic City" is an initiative of Linz, 2009 European Capital of Culture, which is intended to reach far beyond the year 2009 to promote a conscious design of our audible environment in keeping with human dignity.

It is based on the conviction that human beings are touched and influenced to the core by what they hear. For this reason, Acoustic City is committed to promoting an acoustic environment appropriate for human beings.

With the Linz Charter as a guideline for urban planning in an acoustic sense, Beschallungsfrei —The Campaign Against Imposed Noise, and the Akustikon as a world of hearing in the centre of Linz, Acoustic City establishes three points of crystallisation for an increased acoustic awareness in the arrangement of personal life, in politics, in the world of work and everyday life, in architecture and urban development, in zoning, and traffic planning.

Acoustic City manifests itself from 29 November 2008 until “No Music Day” on 21 November 2009. After that, the Akustikon in Linz takes over advocacy for hearing. Acoustic City invites all companies, businesses and organisations renouncing piped music to declare all publicly accessible areas as Beschallungsfrei—free of piped music and imposed noise, by attaching the sticker Beschallungsfrei.

The City of Linz, the Province of Upper Austria and companies such as Thalia Books & Media are among the first to join this initiative. Acoustic City is being supported by personages such as alpinist Reinhold Messner, conductors Franz Welser‑Möst and Dennis Russell Davies, scientists Anton Zeilinger and Elmar Altvater, as well as musicians Heinrich Schiff, Hans Platzgumer and Rocko Schamoni.


Since November 29, 2008, Acoustic City provides a free space for the sense of hearing in the middle of the city: The Ruhepol‑Centralkino (Centre of Calm) is open to the public daily Tuesday through Sunday from 12 a.m. to 9 p.m., no admission charged. The former cinema in Land-straße 36—Linz' central shopping mile—invites everybody to take a rest and to experience silence in a non‑religious context.

Beschallungsfrei is an initiative of Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture, the Austrian Trade Union Federation ÖGB, the Union of Private Employees GPA‑djp, and the Catholic Church in Upper Austria/City Pastoral. Beschall-ungsfrei— The Campaign Against Imposed Noise is targeted against the massive presence of background music in the public sphere. Its aim is to raise awareness that unrequested environmental noise is not a matter of fact and therefore does not have to be accepted without complaint.

With the positive distinction of noise‑free spaces in the environment, the exemplary acoustic design of spaces, a long‑term engagement in schools and universities, and actions for the International Day Against Noise or No Music Day, for example, Linz 2009 communicates the freedom from imposed noise as a human right and an elementary component of the quality of life in a developed society.

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The campaign promotes more spaces in the public sphere free from imposed noise and opposes the willful abuse of the ears through imposed noise with background music— imposed noise that has become commonplace from supermarkets to fitness studios to rest-rooms, and which has become a severe mental strain for many employees. The carrier organisations of the campaign invite all organisations, companies, and businesses that dispense with background music to identify their publicly accessible spaces as being permanently free from imposed noise.

Beschallungsfrei calls for:

  • A stop to the abuse of our ears: curtail imposed noise!
  • A stop of the permanent noise of canned music from the meat counter to the rest-rooms!
  • Protection of our children from acoustic overstimulation!
  • Publicly accessible quiet zones!
  • An obligation of Linz to become Acoustic City!

The Akustikon is both a platform for Acoustic City and its culmination point. It is the heart of the project and has hopes of beating on long after 2009. Its main goal is to alert society to the importance of the sense of hearing and to carve out a place for matters related to this sense in a political and societal context. The Akustikon will be instrumental in advancing the concerns of Acoustic City.

It will oversee the creation of a contained environment devoted to the sense of hearing, where theoretical refinement, discussions, interaction and, last but not least, expert acoustic advice can flourish.


The five guidelines of the Akustikon are as follows:

  1. Being at liberty to hear means that, having cleared our heads, we are open to receive the world via our ears. This is, incidentally, why headphones will be absent from the Akustikon.
  2. Hearing as a trinity means that the Akustikon puts the ear centre stage as a complete sensory organ with the three sensory functions of equilibrium, orientation, and hearing.
  3. Monomediality means that sounds are neither deliberately linked to visual notions nor forced into a synaesthetic context.
  4. “Learning to hear is learning to think” is the clarion call: the Akustikon is a school of hearing.
  5. Spatial diversity refers to all aspects of spatial diversity and to the aim of making spatial perception a conscious dimension of the act of hearing.

A wide range of activities will successively come into being: keeping the hearing environment operational, putting on exhibitions, organising school programmes and the school of hearing, which will coordinate hearing adventures, set up guided Acoustic City tours, and develop a course in acoustics. It will lead discussions, lobby for Acoustic City, create thematic priorities and stage a series of mini concerts.

—Source: http://www.hoerstadt.at/index.html

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