Funded by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust Foundation, these studio-based interdisciplinary courses included students from Architecture, Music, and Computer Science. The course participants creatively interpreted the aural characteristics of the University of Virginia’s Academical Village that, for the past 200 years, has been primarily celebrated and documented as a visual achievement. The aural character of this special place reveals a complex set of communicative spaces that support a diversity of relations, between nature and culture, between the public and private realms, and between the various institutional partners at the University. The web development and archive have been developed with the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University with Worthy Martin (Director), Lauren Massari, and Shayne Brandon.


The Academical Village Sound Map has been designed and developed by Professor Karen Van Lengen, with Architecture student Christina Griggs and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities.



Students were charged with the redesign of Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, following the disturbing events of the previous summer. In addition to the Park redesign, they were required to add a small program that would serve to record, archive and listen to local stories about the history of Charlottesville. In addition, they were asked to create communicative spaces in their park design and were encouraged to use sound recordings to prompt communicative interactions in the public realm. Their designs were exhibited at City Space in Charlottesville in February of 2018.

In preparation for this design agenda, students learned to discover the public realm through the art of listening. The studio began at the Academical Village where students recorded numerous sounds they discovered in this world heritage site. After completing the recording and editing process, they each selected a sound clip of less than 10 seconds, to draw. Using that drawing as a starting point they created a 3D digital volume of the drawing, which they then animated in coordination with the sound recording.  Each of these animations represents a different sound from various locations on The Lawn.



This studio program was designed to re-inhabit the Ranges of the Academical Village as new spaces of engagement for the undergraduate culture at the University. The development of these spaces provided a wide range of designs and interventions, many of which incorporated aural qualities as a means of discovery and communication. This is the unedited version of the student presentations in 2015: The 21st Century Academical Village.



This seminar extensively studied the aural characteristics of the Academical Village and produced several provocative projects:

An interactive site that allows visitors to hear their own uploaded voice in the context of 5 different spaces on the Lawn.

  • Lawnies, by Jacqueline Kenyon, Victor Shepardson, Savannah Thieme

A looped soundtrack that includes selections from interviews with 2013-14 Lawn Residents that speak about the communicative nature of the Lawn and its habitat.

  • A collective interactive site entitled Mapping the sounds of the Lawn that includes the archival recordings of the students in the course: Alex Kaplan, Jacqueline Kenyon, Kevin McVey, Sydna Mundy, Victor Shepardson, Savannah Thieme, and Professor Karen Van Lengen



Website Credits:
Professor Karen Van Lengen and Kaitlynn Long, with Worthy Martin and Lauren Massari from the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities