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Neighborhood Initiative
Sawt wa Samt: The AUB Noise and Silence Research Group

صوت و صمت  : The AUB Noise and Silence Research Group

The Sawt wa Samt: AUB Noise and Silence Research Group is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff and students, dedicated to conducting research on noise in Ras Beirut, creating events to provoke discussion, and advocating public policy reform.   The group includes faculty from audiology, psychiatry, environmental health, psychology, English, fine arts, graphic design, computer and communications engineering, construction management, and business information systems, as well as non-academic staff from the Environmental Health Safety and Risk Management Department and students from the AUB Environment Club.  From the beginning in 2012, the group met monthly for over a year to learn from each other’s disciplines and approaches to silence and noise, both visual and auditory. 

Activities include:

  • Events to promote noise awareness about noise. Click here for the brochure, and scroll down for images of these events.

  • A noise audit of the AUB campus. This entailed recording noise levels at 65 locations on our around campus, four times a day, for the period of a week in April 2013.  Two publications came out of the noise audit:

Sawt Wa Samt Group. (2014). ‘The AUB Noise and Silence Research Group: صوت وصمت’. Jadaliyya.

Ali, M. (2014). ‘Quiet Please!’ The Main Gate: American University of Beirut Magazine. Spring 2014. Vol. 12:2. pp. 40-41.

  • At the request of neighbors, measurement of noise levels from residential balconies.  The measurements rely on widely available technology (the free Noise Tube App and iPads), and technical assistance from the Wireless Lab in the AUB Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Click here for an example of the report provided.

  • Collaboration with a Vertical Architecture Studio in spring 2016 about silence.  Here is the studio poster and an image of a student project – a tree house on the plaza of the Gefinor Center.



  • Encouragement of other student projects, for example, a final year project in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Spring 2016:  Noise Mitigation in Urban Areas:  AUBMC 2020 Case Study.  Supervisor: Profs Maya AbouZeid and Majdi AbouNajm.  The poster and reports can be found here:


  • An online survey of AUB employees in 2016 about the effects of noise on well-being. For more information, please contact the principal investigator Dr. Kim Smith Abouchacra on

For more information or to participate, please contact us at

صوت و صمت : An Immersion Into Sound and Silence

The first Sawt wa Samt public event was an interactive exhibition of student projects from the Fine Art and Art History Department, co-sponsored with the Arts and Humanities Initiative AHI. A thirty-minute itinerary immersed participants into noise and silence through installations and performances, as per images below.


How Old Are Your Ears?

As part of the Celebration for Student Writing event on March 31st 2015, the Sawt Wa Samt group organized a booth with an entertaining and surprising hearing test “How old are your ears?”  Using earphones and a YouTube video on an iPad, the test measures hearing loss at different sound frequencies, and the loss that would be expected at certain ages.  Click here for the YouTube video.

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