On a previous post we summarized the complexity of the urban process and explained why acoustic planning is often neglected in most cities master plans. We concluded that urban sound planning needs combined efforts. On this post we will present the holistic approach to urban sound planning as it is understood within SONORUS and explain why we believe it can improve the acoustic planning in cities.
Our concept of holistic approach is based on three main ideas:
- Urban sound planners should be involved since the beginning of the planning stage;
- The approach to urban sound planning should extend the noise control actions to sound quality and sound design;
- Acoustic planning should be integrated in the whole planning process.
In practice the holistic approach will demand that acoustics’ is considered from the beginning of an urban planning, when nothing is yet decided, and when the future occurrence of noise can be prevented. The management of noise sources is easier at this stage and can be contextualized with other needed actions. Also at this point it is still possible to perform a comprehensive analysis at different levels: legal (local, national, European); social (economic, cultural, historical); technical (local geography, pollution situation, existing infrastructures and others); and as for the characterization of the acoustical situation, it is important not only to consider the existing noise levels but also the soundscape (identify important sounds that are sometimes characteristic and often associated with the identity of sites). Measurements, noise maps, sound maps, questionnaires, all are equally important tools for the urban sound planning. This characterization will provide a global perspective essential for a holistic approach. The next stage should be the definition of acoustic goals and objectives: the outcomes from the urban sound planning.
Are there noise limits to achieve/maintain? Will the planned actions add noise that might affect people’s health? Can it be avoided? How can we coordinate actions to avoid or protect people from noise? Does the site have an acoustic identity that should be protected? What are residents/visitor’s expectations? Can the site be more pleasant if a sound is added to mask existing unwanted noise? Can we use a future building to improve the acoustic situation by, for example, adding a green roof (a few interesting examples of the use of green and recycled materials are demonstrated in the HOSANNA brochure that can be downloaded here)?
Urban sound planners will be able to give such recommendations, and more important, are ready to work proactively by optimising different technical acoustical solutions (noise control engineering, soundscape, prediction methods, auralisation) and integrate them into broader solutions requiring knowledge in road traffic models or others.
The holistic approach is supported by a new tool-box of actions oriented to avoid noise generation and that extends the traditional noise control engineering approach to include:
By considering a holistic approach to urban sound planning it will be easier to successfully design an integrated, global and sustainable solution and create quality environments where communities can thrive.
SONORUS educational project is focused on training future urban sound planners that will be able to introduce this global perspective into planning processes by establishing a link between acoustic research, advanced acoustical methods and urban planning processes.