This collaborative project – involving a composer, architect, community-building project manager / development scholar, film maker, electronics engineer and graphic designer – aims to draw public attention to the levels of noise pollution in Indian cities, with a particular focus on Delhi, which is now considered one of the top 10 mega-cities in the world. Building on work undertaken as part of the UnBox Labs in Ahmedabad, India, in February/March 2014, it aims to raise people’s awareness of the problem of noise pollution. Whilst peace and quiet are essential to rest and recuperation, city traffic and other noise pollution can deleteriously affect human health by raising blood pressure and heart rate, disturbing sleep, and causing hearing loss or in extreme cases deafness.
We propose the building of an experimental device, the mobile Noise Abatement Pod (mNAP). This device, a soundproof box on the back of a pedal-powered bicycle rickshaw, will be used as a ‘social condenser’: an object that will attract attention in its own right; will invite participants to comment on their experience of it and their desires for the sonic landscape of the future of their city; and will act as a container for people to immerse themselves into the soundscape of contemporary life in both rural and urban contexts (and thus from quiet to loud) in order to raise awareness of the disruptive effects of high levels of noise.
Through online and other documentation, through presentation at the UnBox Festival in Delhi, and by offering the sound installation and mNAP designs online, we hope to leave a legacy that will inform and energise other organisations and groups to campaign for a quieter, more healthy environment in other cities around India and the world.