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Buildings  2013 

Understanding Soundscapes

DOI: 10.3390/buildings3040728

Keywords: soundscape, noise, acoustical design, urban design

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Abstract:

This paper offers a new approach to understanding, improving and designing soundscapes. “Soundscape” means all the sounds that can be heard in a specific location. Soundscapes can be understood only through peoples’ perceptions, and this paper proposes using those perceptions to link soundscape improvement and design with traditional noise control methods. Decades of experience have yielded in-depth understanding of how undesirable sounds may be controlled or reduced. The control methods, however, are generally applicable to single sources of sound while soundscapes are composed of multiple sounds. Using human judgments, first in the laboratory and later in the field, it will be possible to deconstruct any soundscape into its desirable and undesirable sounds, which may then, one-by-one, be subjected to proven methods of noise control. This approach includes complications, not the least of which is deciding how much the undesirable sounds should be reduced to perceptually improve the soundscape. Previous published studies, primarily laboratory, but also field studies, suggest that initial laboratory work followed by increasingly complex field applications, should result in an understanding of how soundscapes can be improved and desirable ones designed.

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