Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: Use of sound in cities

  1. #1
         
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4

    Use of sound in cities

    Hello everyone

    I am currently working with a UK Government department looking at the use of sound in urban design.

    We would like to find examples of urban environments that incorporate sound as an element of good design. This includes developments that are self screening from noise, visually attractive noise barrier measures, imaginative use of soundscape features such as fountains and reverberant spaces and anything else that is relevant to creating a healthy and appealing soundscape.

    I am interested if you know of any developments that make good use of sound, and if anyone else is interested in this area.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,978
    I remember an article in Landscape Architecture about a park on a freeway in Seattle. It was a couple of years ago and I do not remember the name of the park, unfortunately, but it used a combination of features to mask the sound of cars.

    It seems sound is one thing to which we do not give much consideration when we plan. That really unfortunate.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    ????
    Posts
    1,184
    Most of the desing elements that I am aware of are used to hide unwanted noise (sound walls, tree screens, etc.) but water is used in many different ways to enhance a design element and help create a sense of place, often in public places.

    The fountain at the Gateway in SLC uses sound as one of its key components. Water shoots up at irregular intervals most of the time, and as it does, it makes a different popping sound depending on the height of the jet of water, which hole it comes out, etc. Other times it is coordinated to music. A fountain (seven Canyons) in Liberty park in SLC mimicks the sound of the creeks that flow out of the surrounding mountains.

    I know of several restaurants that use metal finishes on their ceilings to amplify noise, especially places that do a lot of buisness at lunch time. Cafe Pierpont in SLC purposely put tin on the ceiling to increase the noise so people would not linger. They turn the restaurant over on average of 3 times in an hour and half.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    5,502
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    I remember an article in Landscape Architecture about a park on a freeway in Seattle. It was a couple of years ago and I do not remember the name of the park, unfortunately, but it used a combination of features to mask the sound of cars..
    You are talking about... the aptly named Freeway Park.
    Good example!

    Fountains are also being used more often in large open gathering areas, such as the Orlando airport and the Seattle airport.

    The addition of fountains, small plazas and landscaping are cropping up in many projects in California these days to help attenuate and mask traffic noise. I know the new Civic Center in Calabasas CA, which is near where my parents live, included sunken plazas and fountains in its design guidelines for that reason.

    Several years ago (maybe 8??) the City of Davis (CA) put together design guidelines for sound walls, including landscaping recommendations that suited the hotter temperatures adjacent to the wall faces. I couldn't find a reference on the web though.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    May 2004
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    20
    We have many developments in the area that are directly adjacent to I-95. There have been seveal methods to try and screen the noise and also to lessen the visual impact of living next to the freeway. The least effective are huge stucco walls which are terrible to look at -- and also do a poor job at blocking noise. More effective is leaving a landscape buffer of around 50' wide with a mixture of plantings ranging from groundcover to trees 50' in height or more. The most effective method is the landcaped berm. The developers use dirt from the site of the development and build a 6'-15' mound of dirt. This mound is then covered heavily with vegetation. This is visually nice to look at becase it creates changes in elevation and the fact that its vegetated gives the subdivision a green horizon. It also drowns out the noise from the interstate to a "soothing background noise"???

    There is also aonther development adjacent to a small airport who advertises that the sound of the small planes comming and going creates a sence of "romance"??? not sure about that.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    India
    Posts
    499
    I know of experiments by the Urban Forestry Department in my city where they planted long buffers along some stretches of a major intra city highway to provide the 'BUFFER' and later when they conucted air quality and noise level tests, both confirmed htat buffers do reduce the noise level.
    But the whole ida oflooking at sound in cities is a wonderfully new perspective and has potential for great research and application.
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
    -Isaac Asimov

  7. #7
    Member simulcra's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Chitown
    Posts
    126
    Illinois Institute of Technology on the southside of chicago has a really modern-cool looking noise-dampening tunnel that deals with the noise of the green L line as it passes right through the campus.

  8. #8
         
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4
    Thanks. Freeway park is a good example of the sort of thing we're looking at.

    Some others we have noted are:

    The Cartier Foundation building, Paris This has acoustic screening integrated into the building and uses it in a visually appealing way.

    High Cross Road housing Uses recycled materials to create a noise barrier

    Schouwburgplein The metal and timber decking areas create different sounds when walked on and create a unique soundscape for the square.

    Cheers for the Illinois Institute of Technology tunnel. There's a couple of things in the works that use decking or tunnels over a railway or road.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 20 Jul 2004 at 8:11 AM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    You know, I don't really know of anything on the urban design scale, but I have dealt with soundscaping issues within the confines of my apartment. I am home a great deal and I homeschool my kids, so they are here "all the time". Acoustics in this apartment were just terrible when we first moved in and we had a lot of propblems with "volume wars" between the TV and the computers, for example. And my oldest son has sensory issues and he gets to be extremely difficult to deal with when he is experiencing sensory overload. So, in reading through this thread, it seems to me that folks are focusing on "sounds barriers" and missing the materials aspect (I know cololi mentioned it in terms of restaurant acoustic, but it seems to have largely been overlooked).

    The reason a vegetated berm would be superior to "sound walls" is because it absorbs the sound rather than trying to "contain" it. Sound walls of bare stone strike me as an attempt to 'bottle it up'. But bare stone is an acoustic problem, similar to the metal ceiling of a restaurant. Think of how sound echoes harshly in a canyon with bare rock walls. Why does it do that? Well, partly due to the bare rock walls. (I am no expert in acoustics, but that is how I understand it.)

    While water is useful for creating soothing sounds, like vegetation, it also has different acoustic properties from stone or brick walls. So, it does more than just mask noise. Just as soft furnishings, carpets, and curtains dramatically reduce unpleasant noise in interior design, "softscape" materials (like vegetation, an earth berm rather than a stone wall, and water features) shoul positively impact the public soundscape by altering the acoustics of the environment.

    In addition to that, a "baffle" which causes noise to have to travel around corners and causes it to be reduced with each bounce (rather than amplified) can be really useful. But the baffle itself must be made of sound-reducing or sound-absorbing material -- and stone or masonry walls don't strike me as an effective baffle because they are made of the wrong kind of material, acoustically speaking.

    As an example of an effective baffle on a small scale: My oldest son, who has sensory issues and for whom noise is such a problem, spends most of his day in the same room where I have my office set up -- and he listens incessantly to WAV files. He was making me nuts for a time and his desk area had terrible acoustics. We repositioned his speakers but it didn't really help. The thing that did help was to switch out the hard-surface folding screen behind his desk for an upholstered folding screen that happens to also be taller. That completely changed the acoustics of the area and made his "office" more pleasant for him to be in and made my life a lot less miserable. It does not attempt to "contain" the noise. But it does dramatically reduce how noisy the place is and it changes the quality of the sound.

    Selection of building materials, placement and relationship of buildings, and landscaping should all have a roll in soundscaping an urban environment. Or so I should think.
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 07 Jul 2004 at 10:16 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    India
    Posts
    499
    Well when it comes to buffering the noise from traffic then berms and trees are the best provided theres space for them.

    When it comes to indoors them special material on the walls and the cieling can absorb a lot of noise and a carpet on the floor also can be useful. But there can be side effects too. For example a carpet on the floor can harbour a lot of dust and bacteria and other harmful material.
    In your case Michele, sicne there is a special requirement you can go for indigenous methods like that fabric screen.
    I am facing a different problewm altogether.
    I Live in a fairly quite neghbourhood. But after the places has been gated( you know what I am talking about) a lot of traffic uses the road in front of my house and also a lot of street hawkers seel their wares shouting at hte top of their voices.
    We had become so used to quite environments that its be come unbearable for us now and we have complained to our residents welfare association and no body seems to understand.
    While there are noise level standards are clearly written I think getting sued to low noise levels has made me very irritable to any extra noise.
    Anyway! That has nothing to do with this thread.
    :-0
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
    -Isaac Asimov

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    City of Low Low Wages!
    Posts
    3,236
    I wonder how much the noise has to do with road surfaces. For instance, the Kennedy expressway is built in an open cut with landscaped sides north of Addison, but the thing is so loud you can hear it literally before you see it when walking towards it in those neighborhoods. Standing on the L platforms in the median hurts ones ears. The Eisenhower is also in an open cut, and at UIC one side of it is a solid concrete wall, yet one might not even realize that the expressway is there when standing a few hundered feet from the wall. It certanly is noisy on the L platforms in the middle of it, but no where near like the Kennedy.

    The Kennedy has a few more lanes than the Eisenhower and the median in the middle for the L (which in both cases is covered with ballast) is more narrow, but that can't explain why there's such a huge difference in noise between the two roads. That they have different surfaces and the Kennedy's surface is much noiser is the only thing I can come up with to explain it.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,751
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    I wonder how much the noise has to do with road surfaces.

    Great point! I think that it has a lot to do with it. Many of the roads now have a corrugated texture to them for improved traction when they are wet, and to help channel water away from the roadway. The downfall is they seem to be much louder than the smooth glide of asphalt.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061

    Kinda OT

    Quote Originally posted by Doitnow!!
    When it comes to indoors them special material on the walls and the cieling can absorb a lot of noise and a carpet on the floor also can be useful. But there can be side effects too. For example a carpet on the floor can harbour a lot of dust and bacteria and other harmful material.
    Yes, wall-to-wall carpetting can be filthier than the street outside, and I hate having it in my apartment. But cotton throw rugs that can be readily washed in hot water can be wonderful.
    In your case Michele, sicne there is a special requirement you can go for indigenous methods like that fabric screen.
    Small detail: it is not a 'fabric screen', it is an upholstered screen. You can see the old, noisy screen and the upholstered screen which replaced it here: http://califmichele.com/emp.htm
    I am facing a different problewm altogether.
    I Live in a fairly quite neghbourhood. But after the places has been gated( you know what I am talking about) a lot of traffic uses the road in front of my house and also a lot of street hawkers seel their wares shouting at hte top of their voices.
    We had become so used to quite environments that its be come unbearable for us now and we have complained to our residents welfare association and no body seems to understand.
    While there are noise level standards are clearly written I think getting sued to low noise levels has made me very irritable to any extra noise.
    Anyway! That has nothing to do with this thread.
    :-0
    A fabric wall can dramatically reduce noise and does not have to be very expensive. The last two slides in this powerpoint show the curtain wall in my bedroom and the detail of how I created a long, inexpensive rod to support it: http://eclogiselle.com/ppt.chezelle.html

    Back on Topic -- RE what JordonB said: that is a large part of my rambling point -- that the materials with which we build the built environment have a huge impact on acoustics, whether it is building facades or street surfaces or..whatever.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2004
    Location
    San Antonio, Texas, USA
    Posts
    12

    sound as a design feature

    Louis Kahn was good at this sort of thing:

    A while back, maybe two semesters ago, our studio embarked on a class trip to the museum district in Ft Worth. The others were ok. But I the Kimble was the most pleasent, to me. The Kimble Museum had a design for visitors to park at one site of the museum and walk to the other. (lots of museums in Texas do this.) The scenery changes, and without dressing it up with all the archispeakthat my prfessors do so well, nature you could say, takes over. You go from the parking lot. allong a gravel path and hear rock beneath you feet crunching. The live oak trees are fluttering against each other to make a sound\visual buffer over the street traffic, and lastly, you hear water churning inside the barrel vaults.

    So that's about it. The sorta transition thing, ya know.

    (sorry for all the typos--from herein, i'll be dedicated to proofreading.)
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 20 Jul 2004 at 8:10 AM.

  15. #15

    Woah - Freeway Park Ain't so hot

    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    You are talking about... the aptly named Freeway Park.
    Good example!
    Maybe you should have a peak at this article before setting up Freeway Park as a best-practise on your list,

    Topography of Terror

    I've been to it myself and sure, it's very good at muffling sound, but it is also just about one of the most hideous examples of non-defensible space I've seen. In Freeway Park, noone can hear you scream...

  16. #16
         
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4
    Thanks. I don't think that will be a problem, as it is more about ideas for working with sound than emulating the whole design. The danger factor doesn't seem to be a consequence of the sound features.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    5,502
    Quote Originally posted by Spatial_Monkey
    I've been to it myself and sure, it's very good at muffling sound, but it is also just about one of the most hideous examples of non-defensible space I've seen. In Freeway Park, noone can hear you scream...
    This is true... it is a bad space late at night, as it is difficult to see in and there are many dimly lit areas. It's still a good example of noise masking though, which is the topic of the thread. I really loved the park when I went there about 10 years ago... I also think it's a good example of using what would typically be called dead space above a freeway. Given when it was built, it was a pretty radical idea. Of course, we all know a lot more about planning for safety now, and I'm sure if designed today that park would have ended up very different.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Wellington, NZ
    Posts
    2,447
    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    I wonder how much the noise has to do with road surfaces.
    Lots. Until recently I was sharing my office with an acoustics consultant so I have learnt a little bit about this issue. Also, I helped coordinate public surveys where we went and talked to people before and after their roads were resealed with different materials, to see how much difference in noise they perceived. A brief summary: concrete roads are very noisy, and I know in some parts of Aussie they have added a layer of asphalt over the top just to reduce complaints about the noise. Asphalt tends to be the quietest, while chip seal (which is very common here - large stone 'chips' combined with bitumen) is somewhere in the middle. Then there are different combinations as michaelskis mentioned, for improving traction, drainage etc. I could talk about this all day I work in a transport research lab and we research different road surface types, amongst other things.

    CitySound - because of my interest in noise issues, while I was in Europe recently I took some pictures of some different noise barriers that I thought had interesting designs. I will see if I can dig them out

  19. #19
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Wellington, NZ
    Posts
    2,447
    Photos as taken from Contiki bus window... I was impressed with these designs because our designs at home are very boring in comparison. Also impressed by the lack of graffiti. My favourite design I saw was clear perspex with a design of birds in flight on it. Also saw a pink and yellow design which was surprisingly okay considering it was pink and yellow!






  20. #20
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Santiago, Chile
    Posts
    4,767

    huh? where you speaking? I'm sorry I couldn't listen....

    Hmm, so concrete streets are the noisiest... No wonder downtown Valdivia and generally any major avenue in Santiago is a deafning experience... besides the horrible shape of the urban bus engines and all. What's worse is that in Santiago, at least the downtown is even more noisy due to the tunnel effect the high rise buildings create; I just can't imagine the suffering some kids must go through in spring (hot, so the windows are open) and the high traffic noises... ouch...

    Now, I have seen noise barriers here on the side of the highway that look like the one's JNL photographed... well, the entire highway looks alike...(we even 'stole' the european highway signs!) I've seen quite a strech in the outskirts of Temuco, the Bypass passes though Mapuche lands so the consessionary had to put these noise barriers.

    Just my 13 pesos (2 cents)

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2003
    Location
    upstate
    Posts
    157

    Bells!

    I did my senior thesis (in media studies) about the use of bells to define space on college campuses. I compared the use of bells on modern college/university campuses to the use of bells in rural 18th century French villages. They create a definite sonic space and if you're within earshot you're said to be a part of that community--you identify the peals of the bell with your neighborhood and community. I don't know if that helps.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    18,164
    In USA TODAY, August 2, 2004 there were 2 articles about noise -


    Hey, suburbanites: Keep it down! Smaller cities, towns pass laws to stop noise

    Dozens of communities across the country are cracking down on booming car stereos, whirring weed trimmers and other sounds that disrupt the quiet of suburbia.


    Cities, towns getting earache Cracking down on loud music, mowers, more

    You can't strum your guitar in the town square of Portsmouth, N.H., if you're using an amplifier. You risk a big fine if you drive through Greenville, Miss., blasting Britney Spears.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  23. #23
         
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    London
    Posts
    4
    Hello. Yeh, that's a nice noise barrier. There's some good ones in Europe (not uk). I'd be interested to see those pics.

    They paint pictures of hawks on the barriers to scare off birds..

    The bells thing sounds good. We are interested in the unique soundscapes of areas. Lot of bells in London...you're a cockney if you're born where you can ear Bow bells guv.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2003
    Location
    upstate
    Posts
    157
    Quote Originally posted by CitySound
    The bells thing sounds good. We are interested in the unique soundscapes of areas. Lot of bells in London...you're a cockney if you're born where you can ear Bow bells guv.
    In case you're interested, "Village Bells" by Alain Corbin was the basis for my paper.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Millennials sound off
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 37
    Last post: 04 Jun 2013, 12:15 PM
  2. Sound and planning
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 26 Jul 2012, 5:48 PM
  3. Replies: 9
    Last post: 28 Nov 2011, 5:56 PM
  4. Measuring sound levels
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 09 Feb 2005, 2:29 AM
  5. Replies: 19
    Last post: 23 Jul 2004, 3:02 AM