Strategic use of contrasting soundscapes can be employed as a way to enhance their respective differences as qualities, such as making a tranquil area seem relatively quiet in relation to a busy street1. Variation is generally discussed in terms of enforcing tranquil qualities, as in quiet areas2, quiet façade3, auditory refuges4 and tranquil space5 (Pheasant et al., 2008). However, little has been done in terms of investigating the potential for working the other way around6 .
1Augoyard, J.F. & Torgue, H.. Sonic experience : a guide to everyday sounds. Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 2005.
2EU. Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. (L 189). Official Journal of the European Communities: European Union, 2002.
3de Kluizenaar, Y., Salomons, E.M., Janssen, S.A., van Lenthe, F.J., Vos, H., Zhou, H., Miedema, H.M. & Mackenbach, J.P..Urban road traffic noise and annoyance: the effect of a quiet façade. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130(4), 2011, pp. 1936-1942.
4Hedfors, P.. Site soundscapes : landscape architecture in the light of sound. Diss. Uppsala: SLU, 2003
5Pheasant, R., Horoshenkov, K., Watts, G. & Barrett, B. The acoustic and visual factors influencing the construction of tranquil space in urban and rural environments tranquil spaces-quiet places? The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123(3), 2008, pp. 1446-1457.
6c.f. Whyte, W.H.. The social life of small urban spaces. Washington, D.C.: The Conservation Foundation, 1980.
Embrace wanted sounds
Embracing wanted sounds is to identify existing qualities in the soundscape and further use them to locate new functions. For instance, a new café could be located near an existing fountain to make use of the water sound as an atmospheric quality1.
1Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S. & Silverstein, M.. A pattern language : towns, buildings, construction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Avoid unwanted sounds
This involves strategic localisation of sensitive functions in positions sheltered from noise. Sheltered positions can be secured if there is sufficient distance to the noise source or by making use of the ‘sound shadow’ from existing structures like buildings and/or topography. Noise has been shown to have negative effects on health1 , including our ability to communicate2, to sleep3, and to feel acoustic comfort4. It also affects our willingness to help other people5. Absence of noise, on the other hand, correlates with tranquillity6, an important quality in parks, pocket parks and housing areas.
1Basner, M., Babisch, W., Davis, A., Brink, M., Clark, C., Janssen, S. & Stansfeld, S.. Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health. Lancet, 383(9925), 2014, pp. 1325-1332
2Gehl, J.. Life between buildings : using public space. Copenhagen: The Danish Architectural Press, 2006.
3WHO. Night noise guidelines for Europe. Regional office for Europe: World Health Organisation, 2009.
4Yang, W. & Kang, J… Acoustic comfort evaluation in urban open public spaces. Applied Acoustics, 66(2), 2005, pp. 211-229
5Cohen, S. & Spacapan, S.. The Social Psychology of Noise. In: Jones, D.M. & Chapman, A.J. (eds.) Noise and society. Chichester: Wiley, 1984.
6Pheasant, R., Horoshenkov, K., Watts, G. & Barrett, B.. The acoustic and visual factors influencing the construction of tranquil space in urban and rural environments tranquil spaces-quiet places? The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123(3), 2008, pp. 1446-1457.
Embrace unwanted sounds
Embracing unwanted sounds is to acknowledge (existing) noise, e.g. the row from a market, as an urban quality that may be suitable for certain functions. It has been observed that an active soundscape can have positive effects on urban situations and offering social seclusion1. Some sounds that are arbitrarily described as noise should instead be regarded as an urban quality2,3. Yet, it is still important to ensure that some areas are tranquil (cf. Compensation/variation).
1Whyte, W.H.. The social life of small urban spaces. Washington, D.C.: The Conservation Foundation, 1980.
2Cerwén, G.. Urban soundscapes: A quasi experiment in landscape architecture. Landscape Research 41 (5), 2016, 481-494.
3Hellström, B.. Noise design : architectural modelling and the aesthetics of urban acoustic space. Diss. Stockholm: KTH, Stockholm. Ejeby, 2003.