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The sonic environment of urban parks and the influence of the noise generated by the paving : the case study of Valley Gardens area in Brighton

Samuele Fuda

The sonic environment of urban parks and the influence of the noise generated by the paving : the case study of Valley Gardens area in Brighton.

Rel. Arianna Astolfi, Jian Kang, Francesco Aletta. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2014



Since it was introduced by Raymond Murray Schafer in the late sixties, the concept of Soundscape has been matter of interest of many theoretical researches, which analyzed soundscape from the point of view of various fields of study, such as acoustic and psychoacoustic, sociology, psychology, architecture and urbanism. Nevertheless, the by now several theoretical studies on soundscape does not correspond to a comparable amount of applied examples. For what concerns architecture and urbanism, the analysis of the sonic environment is not always an integral part of the project designs process, even though this topic gained some interest in the very last years. This interest especially involves the objective of sound levels control and noise abatement. Indeed, through the last decades several studies have proved that the noise pollution has a strong influence on the physic and psychological health of people. The need to reduce noise pollution led to developing several instruments in order to control it, such as noise maps and regulation plans. Nevertheless, sound level control and noise abatement represent only a part of the potential instruments that can be used to improve the quality of the sonic environment, which does not depend only on the sound levels, but also on how it is subjectively perceived. In fact, the simple measurement of sound level (A-weighted sound pressure level, SLP) remain the most common measure of sound quality or annoyance, although it is generally appreciated that simply reducing the sound level of an urban space does not necessarily increase a listener's degree of "acoustic comfort" (Hall, et al., 2013). Apart from noise control, the use of other instruments to modify the soundscape by the side of architects and designer is still not really diffuse and codified; therefore, in this thesis has been gathered up practical instruments that show different way to intervene on the sonic environment; then, the instruments have been divided in different categories depending on their effects on the soundscape. In support of the classification a theoretical framework has been introduced, as well as some cases studies for each instrument. Thus, this collection of practical examples aims to be an overview of possible methods of designing the sonic environment. Consequently, the thesis focusses on the application of these instruments on a concrete example. Quality aspects of the soundscape have been investigated in the transformation project planned for Valley Gardens urban area in Brighton, UK. Valley Gardens site presents high noise levels traffic that strongly affect the green areas along the site, which are also underused by the residents for their leisure activities. The urban project involves the transformation and complete redesign of the site in order to improve the public spaces usage and the circulation network. The acoustic aspect is highly considered by the city partner, whose objective, concerning the sonic environment, is: "Using sound as a valuable resource rather than a "waste product of poorly designed areas" - this project seeks to minimise intrusive / unwanted noise whilst at the same time introduce positive sounds." For these reasons the SONORUS network has been involved for collaborating to area's soundscape analysis and design. The SONORUS network is a team of researchers from several universities, that is, Chalmers, Naples, Gent and Sheffield, along with engineering consulting companies and city councils. The aim of SONORUS is the planning of the acoustic environment of the cities on a holistic way that "supports wellbeing and health of the people living there" (SONORUS, 2013); test sites in which this approach is applied are Rome, Berlin, Antwerp and of course Brighton. I collaborated with SONORUS members at the University of Sheffield, within the Valley Gardens project. Therefore my work focussed on the analysis of a specific aspect for the sonic environment improvement inside the project, considering the nature of the place and the major importance of the green spaces sequence alongside the area, which will host several activities available for Brighton citizens. It is been decided to investigate the influence of four materials commonly used for paving the paths inside green areas on the perceived sonic environment, from acoustic, haptic and visual point of views. The aim of the investigation was to determine which material or materials among the four chosen are better for the environment of Valley Gardens area in terms of acoustic appropriateness and acoustic quality and haptic comfort and haptic quality, and how these indices influence each other's, confronting objective measurements and subjective responses. The entire body of data collection, analysis of acoustic parameters and experimental results were carried out using different software, that is, Audacity and ArtemiS.

The thesis is divided in three chapters. The first one is the background chapter which contains a brief exposition the theoretical concepts that form the basis of the resulting practical research. It is about introduction and definition of the soundscape concept and its historical contextualization. The second chapter is about the theoretical framework that aims to define the necessary instruments to actively intervene on different aspects of the soundscape; case studies illustrating each of these instruments are provided. Chapter three concerns the

Experimental design, that is, it contains an introduction about the case study area, the steps requie in order to set up the experiment and then the analysis of the result obtained.

Relators: Arianna Astolfi, Jian Kang, Francesco Aletta
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: S Scienze e Scienze Applicate > SA Acustica
U Urbanistica > UK Pianificazione urbana
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/3760







1.1 The Soundscape: Concepts and Historical Background

1.2 Psychoacoustic and Psychoacoustic indices

1.2.1 Loudness

1.2.2 Roughness

1.2.3 Fluctuation Strength

1.2.4 Sharpness


2.1 "The sonic identity of European cities”

2.1.1 First approach: "Selection of representative examples"

2.1.2 Second approach:" Sonic Perception"

2.1.3 Third approach: "Characterisation of the sonic identity of a city"

2.1.4 Handling instruments

2.2 Practical approaches

2.3 Defensive elements

2.3.1 Noise barrier

2.3.2 Vegetation belts

2.3.3 Noise masking

2.4 Active elements

2.4.1 Architectonic Elements

2.4.2 Interactive Elements


2.4.3 Path Elements

2.4.4 Musical Elements

2.5 Creative elements

2.5.1 Sonic Gardens: "Parco Sempione Sonic Garden", Milan; "Villa Aldobrandini Sonic Garden", Roma; La "Biennale di Venezia", Venezia - Architettura Sonora

2.5.2 "Space Birds", Berlin (2011) - Korinsky Studio

2.5.3 Urban Sound Gardening, Berlin (2012) - Korinsky Studio

2.5.4 Aeolus pavilion - Luke Jerram

2.5.5 "Organ of Corti", London (2010) - Liminal


3.1 The Valley Gardens Project

3.1.1 The valley Gardens Area Analysis

3.1.2 Issues

3.1.3 The project proposal

3.2 Binaural hearing and recording Technology

3.2.1 Binaural hearing

3.3 Experimental process

3.3.1 Binaural Recording and Artificial Heads

3.3.2 The Anechoic Chamber

3.3.3 Methods: Part 1

3.3.4 Method: Part II




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