Simply put, soundscapes simulate the sounds of yet to be built structures or the sound environment of new neighbourhoods. Roads, power plants, factories and windmills are some of the well-known noise polluters, but other things such as air conditioners, the location of bus stops and cafés may also be perceived as a noise nuisance by residents living nearby. The virtual sound simulating program will be able to take into account a wide variety of different noise sources and is expected to become an important tool in urban planning.
The technology involved is called auralisation, and Ramboll has been a part of the first Nordic research project, called LISTEN, to develop an auralisation program able to create soundscapes. Ramboll’s key role in the project has been to provide sound samples from city environments, a field within which we have vast experience, and to facilitate the practical applicability of the program.
Innovative research on the sound environment in cities
The innovative research project on the sound in cities will help town planners in creating least possible noise nuisance for the environment. The project is lead by Gösta Ekmand Laboratory at Stockholm University, Sweden and will be completed in 2010.
The most innovative aspect is the project’s simulation programme which is an efficient tool in connection with town planning. The programme contains a number of sounds which can be combined with the physical design of an area. Furthermore, it will be possible to combine the visual changes with noise muffling elements already in the simulation phase. Previously, noise in a certain area was visualised by means of a noise map with the number of dB(A), but the new auralisations make it possible to actually listen to the planned environment.