沒想到空調系統會那麼吵…
arriving at Donghwa University to begin this week’s work, i took a walk through campus to get a sense of what we might hear–a preliminary soundwalk to let me know how to plan. what surprised me was how loud much of the campus was. besides a road nearby with vehicular traffic, the buildings all hummed with hvac, one with a roar and whine audible a couple hundred meters away. not what one expects of a campus in Hualien County

為了準備這禮拜在東華大學的聲音藝術工作坊,我行李沒放下幾分鐘就出去散步,尋找校園聲音景觀的音響指標,很驚訝的是,想像中充滿大自然聲的校園,除了秋風吹過芒草颯颯音、鳥啼蟲鳴之外,還有很多噪音,特別是建築物空調系統的音,非常大聲。很意外的,這應該是校園的基礎聲音 (keynote)。這說不定不只是東華聲音景觀特色,而是台灣校園的共同基礎聲音

走在校園我不免想到murray schafer給噪音的定義:我們習慣不注意到的聲音,the sounds we have learned to ignore。走在校園中,我也納悶:難道我在其他校園一直沒有注意到空調系統的聲音?這聲音應該無所不在,但是,我也記得25-30年前並不如此,這基礎聲音是台灣近年來學校比設備的結果,也是建築設計失敗的產物

記得30年前在東海大學,當時大校門前中港路一直有車子一波一波轟過去,但是校園內,小溪流的水生,還聽得到,那時,連腳踏車要停在校門外,不用說機車,無論是文學院、社會科學院、或者華語中心,大部分是以兩層樓,庭院式建築物,1950-1960年代蓋校,當時台灣物資缺乏,經費不可能在暖、冷氣浪費,所以建築都要讓空氣流通才有辦法,結果,1980年代大自然的聲音還是校園聲音景觀的主流和基礎

有了新設備,高樓、冷氣、封閉空間,當然對一些科系有好處,宿舍也應該比較好住一些。雖不能否認我對那種已經聽不見的歷史校園聲音景觀有一種懷念,但是這種懷念,其實要更進一步了解我們之所以在郊外(志學、知本、大村等地)蓋校園:如果我們覺得在接近大自然、沒有大都會人口密集所帶來的喧嘩和外在刺激有助於教學,我們的建築物,為何一直散發嗡嗡喔喔轟轟各種機械聲響?而且,如果我們真的聽到那些聲音--機車和汽車聲、空調和電器的聲音,我們會不會覺得更可怕,既然一直提倡減碳節能的我們,在空調利用這麼多的資源?

我不是說一定要回到當時東海的設備,但是在想,我們如果傾聽大學校園聲音景觀,我們會發現我們口號和行動中間的落差?

The noise of the HVAC made it impossible for me not to wonder whether the soundscape shares its key elements with those of any Taiwanese academic campus. And although i have many reservations about Murray Schafer’s conception of noise, his argument that noise is the set of sounds that we have learned to ignore came to mind. I wonder how many of us delight in the natural setting of campuses like Donghwa (but here I’d include Taitung University’s Jhihben Campus or DaYeh University in Yuanlin) but push away from awareness the constant whine and rush of the HVAC and electrical appliances. These sounds are constant today, but of course they are relatively new. 25 or 30 years ago, the soundscapes of Taiwanese universities were much different in composition. If there is a common keynote sound in Taiwanese campuses today, dominated by HVAC, this is both the product of the massive expansion of university facilities during the 1990s and 2000s and the failures of architecture to create more efficient and sonically pleasing environments

I remember living in Tunghai University, located on the outskirts of Taichung City, back in 1987. At the time there were few noises in the campus soundscape that could drown out the sound of water and wind. These sounds formed the background against which one heard the sounds of students talking, laughing, and walking. The road to Taichung Harbor was outside of the front gate and did introduce a constant hum toward that side of the university, and common sounds included the daily garbage trucks and some deliveries. But even bicycles were exiled from campus, let alone motorcycles, meaning that the campus was relatively free of vehicular traffic. Built in the 1950s and 1960s when Taiwan was a poor country, resources couldn’t be expended on heating and cooling the buildings. As a result, the one and two story courtyard buildings were all constructed with good ventilation in mind. Open to the sounds of the campus, they also added the voices of lectures, discussion, and practice. In the late 1980s this soundscape still dominated the campus at Tunghai and was even similar, with the addition of the hum of motor vehicles surrounding the campus, at National Taiwan University

From the mid-1990s, Taiwanese universities began to expand and compete, building ever larger buildings. Obviously, some subjects require sealed environments, and the addition of air conditioning is pleasant for work and for living in the dorms. I will not doubt that these were all improvements. If I am nostalgic for the historical soundscape of Tunghai University in the 1980s, it is a kind of critical nostalgia in which I wish to explore the reasons why we wished to build campuses in places like Zhixue, in a large open area relatively far from the city. If it is because we think that we will learn best in a place in which we can connect to nature and each other, away from the density of cities, their constant clamour and overstimulation, then why have we imported the whine and whirl, howl and hum of mechanical sounds? If we were truly to hear these sounds of motorcycles, automobiles, HVAC, and alternating current, wouldn’t we also be horrified that while we advocate for resource conservation and carbon reduction we use so much energy keeping these stuffy confines breathable?

While I am not saying that we should go back to the facilities of Tunghai in the 1980s, I wonder whether attention to campus soundscapes might point out the gap between our slogans and our actions. I also wonder whether such attention might help us think of better ways to build, live, and learn