Beyond the Visual  

A research curriculum for explorations in spatiotemporal environments

Constantinos Miltiadis, Gerriet K. Sharma 

Virtual reality (VR) and spatial audio technologies have ushered in a new paradigm in the fields of architecture and music. Media developed with these technologies produce experiences beyond what is perceivable in the physical world, thereby extending our capacities to design/compose as well as our sensibilities for spatial and temporal perception. By operating in the spatiotemporal domain, these new media cause us to question our disciplinary understandings of space and time, as well as their aesthetics, which requires an altogether new post-disciplinary conception of design/composition and experience.

"Beyond the Visual" is a research curriculum for investigating spatiotemporal aesthetics in the interface between architecture and music, in regard to both perception and creativity as they relate to design/composition. Constantinos Miltiadis and Gerriet K. Sharma developed it initially for a week-long workshop taught at the 2018 OSSA (Polish Association of Architecture Students) festival, titled "Vision" (October 13–21, 2018, Łodz, Poland). The workshop was conducted in an architectural context, with seven participants who were all architecture students without prior experience in the topic.

Workshop participants: Kelly Babbar, Aleksandra Bartczak, Rafał Golczyk, Jakub Gondorowicz, Joanna Lipnicka, Karol Wawrzkiewicz, and Maja Wrzeszcz

Support: Maja Piechowiak and Ihor Savchenko

Hardware sponsorship: HP

This exposition elaborates further on the curriculum and material developed for and through the workshop, also as part of the research agenda of the more recent Society for Artistic Research (SAR) special interest group (SIG), Spatial Aesthetics and Artificial Environments.


Structure, workshop brief, context, participants, programme, aims, and remarks


This section provides essential information regarding the workshop's context and participants; the workshop brief; how this research is situated; and the structure and aims of this curriculum.




THINKING about sound reminds the architect that human beings do not live in silence.

Juhani Pallasmaa (The Eyes of the Skin, 1996)


Afterword and further resources


















Module 1

Spatial Listening Exercises/Listening-Experience

In order to examine spatiality, participants were first introduced to the fundamental tool and instrument to be used throughout the workshop: the blindfold, an aural enhancement device (AED).


To expose participants, who were coming from an architectural background, to aural aspects of space, the first part of the workshop involved practical listening experiments. Wearing a blindfold, they were asked to examine space as a composition of a spatial scene as well as through a dérive.













...BUILDINGS do not react to our gaze, but they do return our sound back to our ears.

Juhani Pallasmaa (The Eyes of the Skin, 1996)

Module 2

Space as thought: reading and thinking about space

Participants were assigned readings on space, from different disciplines, that were later presented and discussed within the group.



Module 5

Finale and takeaway: presentation and exhibition

The workshop concluded with a presentation by the participants and an exhibition of the VR experience developed. 









It is necessary to unlearn space in order to embody space.

It is necessary to unlearn how we see in order to see with our bodies.

It is necessary to unlearn knowledge of our body in three dimensions in order to recover the real dimensionality of our body.

Let's dance space.

Let's re-space our bodies.

Let's celebrate the felt feeling of presence.

Olafur Eliasson (The Future is Curved, 2014)

Module 3

Sketching through spatial sound:
binaural listening sessions with headphones and AEDs.

















Module 4

From aural sketches to spatial design in VR

The spatial composition timeline was split into different sections corresponding to the different spatial impressions that were derived from the blindfolded listening experience. After a brief introduction to Unity, a cross-platform game engine, these sections were designed and translated into a VR experience.




Intermediate presentation of findings

After the first two days, workshop participants presented their findings on the aural construction of space.














Listen! Interiors are like large instruments, collecting sound, amplifying it, transmitting it elsewhere…

Peter Zumthor (Atmospheres: Architectural Environments, 2006)

Buildings provide spaces for living but are also de facto instruments,
giving shape to the sound of the world.
Music and architecture are related not only by metaphor, but also through concrete space.
Every building I have ever admired is,
in effect, a musical instrument whose performance gives space a quality
that often seems to be transcendent and immaterial.

Daniel Libeskind (New Statesman, 2002)