Chinatown Sound Map Launch

At long last, – the Chinatown Sound Map is finally here! You can check out the results from this project by visiting or by clicking the image below.

Chinatown Sound Map

The Chinatown Sound Map is a collaborative, community based project guided by the curiosity of exploring how sound contributes to our sense of place. It provides a platform for users to listen to and share different experiences in and with Chinatown through the perspective of sound.  

Thoughts, reflections & questions

Looking back, this project has come a long way since its conception last May. Through the generous support of various community partners, the Chinatown Sound Mapping Project has grown (and hopefully will continue to grow) in new and exciting directions.

After spending my time weaving through the streets of Chinatown with an audio recorder last summer, I had the opportunity to host a series of sound mapping workshops in the fall. These workshops enabled greater community participation in the project by providing a space for participants to contribute to the sound mapping of Chinatown. By bringing participants out into the streets of Chinatown, these workshops reimagined everyday spaces in the neighbourhood as a site for critical reflection and learning. For example, as one workshop participant demonstrates, paying attention to the different sounds in Chinatown can be a way for us to consider the power dynamics that play out in space and place.

The sound mapping workshops also provided participants with the opportunity to engage with those who live and work within the neighbourhood. One of my favourite moments was when several workshop participants and I stumbled upon the ULAM Filipino Cuisine pop up and got to know Josie, a local Chinatown resident, over a delicious bowl of lugow.

Listening to the recordings I’ve captured, a pattern appears to emerge from the sounds and places that are represented on the sound map. For various reasons, these sounds felt important to document. The cheeky interaction between a grandmother and her grandson at the grocery store brought back a wave of mischievous childhood memories, and demonstrates to me how Chinatown still an intergenerational community space, a place where memories and relationships continue to be made. Evidently, certain sounds can enrich our experiences and enable us to connect to a place by evoking memory and emotion; other sounds may not. While our different interpretations of sound will inform our particular understandings of what Chinatown is/what it could be, my hope is that this project demonstrates how Chinatown is still a vibrant community, – living, breathing and dynamic.

With that in mind, it would be impossible to engage in a project in Chinatown without noticing the rapid changes that are being experienced by the neighbourhood. This project sought to visualize the impact of these changes by examining the soundscapes of Chinatown. For example, consider the following two recordings. How might these sounds be experienced differently depending on our particular social locations? Who has the social and economic capital that would allow them to navigate comfortably through different places in the neighbourhood? What might this say about the changes that are happening in Chinatown, and who is or is not excluded?

Hopefully, by paying attention to the soundscapes of Chinatown, users can consider the role that sound plays in cultivating our particular sense of place. Many interpretations of Chinatown exist depending on the unique ways in which we connect (or don’t connect) with this neighbourhood. This can have a real and tangible impact on our ability to navigate through a place such as Chinatown. In taking a more critical approach to sound and place, how might we adopt a more nuanced perspective on the ways in which we live, work and play in relation to one another in the neighbourhood? What other lessons or insights can others draw from this project? I’m excited to find out!

Thank you!

It truly took a community effort to bring this project to life. The Chinatown Sound Mapping Project would not have been possible without the support of the following:

  • UBC ACAM Community Projects Fund
  • Louis Lapprend, Marion Jeandel (Chinatown Today)
  • hua foundation
  • Sound map workshop participants: Arielle, Beverly, Christy, Dominique, Emma, Janie, Kimberely, Matthew, Patricia, Tyler

Many thanks for your time, patience and contributions to this project!

What’s next?

The Chinatown Sound Map was designed with the intention of facilitating sustained community participation in this project. Users have the ability to contribute to this project by submitting their own field recordings from Chinatowns across the country, continent, or even world. The possibilities are endless, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this project will continue to grow.

Have suggestions on how the platform can be improved, or have other ideas on how you can contribute to this project? Feel free to leave a message or give me a shout!

Sound Mapping Workshop Announcement


So this is finally happening! Take part in the Chinatown sound mapping project by participating in one of the two workshops, happening on October 1st and 8th. Audio equipment and snacks will be provided. No experience is required.

To RSVP, please email me at and indicate your desired workshop date. Looking forward to collaborating with you!

Sound mapping update!

I can’t believe how quickly the last several months have gone by! Working in Chinatown over the summer was incredible, and I feel so lucky and privileged to have had this experience. I’m waiting to hop onto a plane tonight, but thought I’d share some quick updates before I head out East.

  1. I’m really thankful for all the positivity that I’ve received thus far. Over the last several months, I’ve been able to meet and connect with folks who were genuinely interested in supporting this project, which encouraged me to explore how my initial plans can be expanded to create a more community-based project. This leads me to the second point…
  2. Through the generous support of the ACAM Community Projects Fund, I’m really excited to announce that I will be hosting several sound mapping workshops in the fall! These workshops will provide an opportunity for folks to attend a sound walk in Chinatown, learn how to use an audio recorder, and contribute to the Chinatown sound map. So far, this project has been fairly individually driven, so I’m looking forward to collaborating with others. More details TBA!
  3. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring and recording sounds in Chinatown, and the sound map is slowly (but surely) coming together. Some sounds are fleeting and difficult to capture, so this project is challenging me how to balance my project interests with being present and enjoying the moment. (This is also why progress a bit slower, as I’m choosing to take my time rather than rushing to “finish” this project). All that being said, the sound map will (hopefully) be public by September or October!

More updates coming soon! (Soon = not three months, haha.)

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Sound mapping in Chinatown

Ever since completing UBC’s Asian Canadian Film Production class this past semester, I’ve been itching to start a new digital media project. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for different projects that I can pursue. It was only yesterday when I finally figured out what I wanted to do: a sound mapping project of Vancouver Chinatown.

I drew inspiration from a couple of people. First, from my friend Cassandra, who recently created a podcast on the changing landscape of food in Chinatown. In her podcast, sound played a significant role in conveying different feelings, such as the “hot and noisy” (熱鬧) atmosphere in Chinatown. Second, I drew inspiration from Max Ritts, a graduate student from the UBC Geography department. Max co-taught my Environment & Sustainability class, where I was able to learn more about his acoustic mapping research. Using recording devices called Song Meters, Max assisted the Gitga’at Nation in mapping out the acoustic profile of their territory, in order to better understand the influence of the growing tanker traffic on the local ecology.

Sound can be easily taken for granted. How does sound shape the way we experience and navigate through different places? What kinds of sounds can be discovered that we didn’t pay attention to before? These are the questions I hope to explore in undertaking this project.

There are several reasons why I am grounding this project in the context of Chinatown. First, I’m working with hua foundation (whose office is located in Chinatown) this summer, meaning that I’ll be spending a large part of my week in the area. Second, with all the activities (e.g., condo development, community organizing, etc.) that are happening in this area, I’m curious to hear what the sound profile is like/how that may be changing. Third, I hope that this project will encourage others to engage with what’s going on in Chinatown, such as by going for a sound walk of their own.

What would this project look like? Basically, I want to capture short clips of different sounds in Chinatown, be it the bubbling of water in fishmongers, or the wooden clacking of sounds of an abacus in a dry herbal store. These clips will be embedded into an online map, where you can click different points to see what sounds can be found in that location. Hopefully, others will share clips of their own and contribute to the sound mapping of Chinatown. Thinking further down the line, perhaps a new sound map can be made on a yearly basis, to facilitate a comparison of how the soundscape of Chinatown may be changing.

I’m excited to start this project! If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to share them down below. Stay tuned for more updates!