The Mancunian Way is becoming more and more of an urban problem than the solution it was in the past century. The motorway segregates the city by distancing people away from the noise. The large area that the infrastructure covers is not suitable for the use of people, as the constant traffic on the elevated and reflective concrete structure drowns the soundscape of the site, making it the noisiest area in the city.
The SoundLab’s proposal limits the use of cars on the motorway and offers a pedestrian pathway as a Sound-Walk. Three temporary installations are set up along the Sound-Walk to emphasize three constitutive parts of the soundscape: Anthropophonic, Geophonic and Biophonic sounds. Meanwhile, the SoundLab’s two towers enclose the motorway, containing the noise it creates, but also adapting it from a destructive force to a complementary part of the city’s soundscape.
The SoundLab is an experiential learning space that invites sonic engagement with the urban soundscape. The Lab is comprised of two different venues that push the boundary of how people experience music, two anechoic labs that are in complete isolation from the everyday soundscape, creating an experience of sound without space, and, lastly, an endangered sound archive and museum that collects and plays back recordings of the past and the far.
By understanding the soundscapes of our cities, we can begin to see other warnings that the cities have been giving us for years. A stronger relationship with sound is necessary in order to find solutions for our urban problems. We do not need to demolish the Mancunian Way; we just need to transform its purpose. Just like sound can morph into a new vibration, so people and the cities can begin a new phase of life.