Voice Your Place is a project that focuses on community, belonging, and valuing the built environment by creating an audio guide narrated by teenagers from the local community about heritage architecture in their town. The objective of the audio guide is to become a social-pedagogical tool that engages teenagers in a playful but conscious process of exploring, discovering, and appreciating heritage. The project was developed during the Voice Your Place Summer School, which took place this year in Curtea de Argeș in July, with the participation of twenty teenagers from the local community. During the three weeks, workshops were held on: architecture, soundscape, creative writing, performance, and recordings in a local studio. The workshops, coordinated by experts from the creative fields involved, aimed to create essential components of the audio guide, but also to create multiple perspectives on the heritage buildings studied, to outline and deepen their complexity.
The architecture workshop aimed to provide participants with a knowledge base for the studied buildings, the documentation was designed to touch on as many points as possible of the complexity of an architectural object: urban and historical context, archive images, architectural drawings, and photography.
In the soundscape workshop, the teenagers explored the audio landscape and discovered the space of the sites through sound details. The participants recorded at the locations with professional equipment: the ambient soundscape, site-specific sounds through interaction, but also "constructed" audio fragments to illustrate the guide.
The creative writing workshop aimed to use storytelling as a means of expression and knowledge, bringing out through writing the participants' own perspective to reveal the personal connections we form with the built environment. During the workshop the teenagers wrote a series of short stories in relation to the six heritage sites, which are integrated into the audio guide as fragments, bringing the visitor and listener closer to the life of the local community.
The performance workshop prepared the studio recordings, by studying the texts in detail through exercises in reading, phrasing, diction, intonation, and other free exercises specific to improvisation theatre. An expressive audio guide depends on the narrator, implicitly on his emotion and relationship with the text. By the end of the Summer School, the teenagers had accumulated experience, knowledge, and emotion during the workshops and meetings when they came in front of the microphone and became narrators, which we believe was felt in their reading.
Voice Your Place: Curtea de Argeș audio guide includes six episodes: the Church of Saint Nicolas, the ruin of Sân Nicoară Church, the Episcopal Church, the Church of the Assumption of Mary - Olari, the Royal Railway Station, and Norocea House. Voice Your Place project and Summer School are designed to be implemented in other towns and villages in the country. The Curtea de Argeș project can be considered a pilot project, we hope, in a network of audio guides that do not offer a simple narration, but are the accumulation and product of a learning process and approach of the local young community to the built heritage, offering at the same time to the visitor and listener the experience of hearing through the voice of the community the stories of a place.