Loughborough University

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'Effing Awful!’: developing audio representation as a medium for conveying people's experiences of flooded homes

Although the concept of loss of home is well documented in disaster research, discussions of people’s experiences and vulnerabilities are normally presented in written or visual form, often adhering to established practices. This paper aims to reposition this bias by engaging participants in the creation of an audio-based representation of their experiences of the 2019 flooding in Doncaster, UK. It is based on data from a residential area situated next to the river Don. Drawing on theories of home, disaster literature, sound design, musical composition and music psychology, the research explores the minutiae of the spoken word and the characteristic ambient sounds from each of the flooded locations. By using contemporary recording and editing technology, the work presents the individual narratives as a series of thematic audio vignettes. In this setting, multiple facets of speech are manipulated alongside melodic and ambient sonic materials, deployed to engage the listener and to promote empathy and understanding.

The study uses text-based thematic analysis in parallel with audio analysis of voice, timbre, sound and the prosodic elements of speech to provide an additional data set. It highlights how the participants’ experiences are reflected in their relationships with state responders, the local community, landlords within the post-disaster rebuilding experience, both physically and psychologically. It also exposes some of the factors that affect vulnerability and resilience, along with the importance of community spirit. It draws an intricate audio web that represents the complexity and intersectionality of the experience of flooding.

The study is imbricated with the life experiences and local knowledge of the lead researcher, a long-time resident of the area. It analyses and represents the findings from a unique, subtle and unintrusive perspective. The audio output from the research – a soundscape composition – is designed to push the boundaries of representation and to evidence the researcher’s use of Creative Analytic Practice. It is not aimed solely for the cognoscenti: its academic qualities lie in its design, development, rationale and in its evaluation as an alternative form of representation. Its uses, however, go beyond this realm, reaching back within the communities whence it came and embodying participant feedback which is aligned with the researcher’s creative compositional contribution.


Loughborough University Home CDT Project



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
  • Design and Creative Arts


  • Design

Published in

Disaster Prevention and Management




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com

Acceptance date





  • en


Prof Ksenia Chmutina. Deposit date: 30 May 2024

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