Sound advice

Ready for evensong: Stanbrook Abbey by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.
Ready for evensong: Stanbrook Abbey by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. · Credit: Tim Crocker

‘Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you.’ Winnie the Pooh might have been happy to be found by hums, but not all of us feel the same. Do you hear the plugs buzzing? Does the sound of air conditioning bother you? Is the sound of woodworm boring taking you to the edge? Are deathwatch beetles hammering away unbearably noisy alongside the beat of your heart? Normally filtered out, when the peripheral shifts to centre stage it can be distressing. Equally, when we are robbed of the best of peripheral noises – birdsong, water flowing, rustling leaves – we feel poorer for it. Design is about ordering and layering our experience, bringing the most important sensations to the fore, underlaid by the pleasant peripheral with the unpleasant hidden, as OMA exposed at the 2014 Venice Architectural Biennale. We can’t all live in Venice or the Hundred Acre Wood but, like Pooh, we should be able to enjoy the best of hums.