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Protecting tranquillity and enhancing soundscapes

The National Planning Policy Framework has a presumption in favour of sustainable development at its core, based on net benefit to society. The Noise Policy Statement for England states that such sustainable development “should aim to contribute to the improvement of health and quality of life through the effective management and control of environmental, neighbour and neighbourhood noise. The protection of quiet places and quiet times, as well as the enhancement of the acoustic environment, are fundamental to delivering these objectives.

To address this societal need to protect quiet places, Anderson Acoustics is supporting the Tranquil City project, which is “curating urban calm” in London and beyond. By crowdsourcing tranquil spaces and displaying them alongside relative low noise and air pollution data, it engages the public to explore the city soundscape in a more positive light and identifies tranquil spaces requiring protection.

The enhancement of the acoustic environment requires a conscious and collaborative soundscape design approach that goes beyond merely mitigating noise to below an arbitrary limit. Soundscape methodologies exist to help developers, master planners and architects design better sounding places. Advanced 3D acoustic modelling and ambisonic recording can be used to create accurate sound simulations, and techniques such as sound walks, sound zoning, sound mapping, soundmarks and adaptation provide a vocabulary with which to incorporate soundscape at the design stage.

Sound has a direct relationship to how we feel, yet is often one of the last things considered in sustainable development. Anderson Acoustics believes a balanced approach which protects tranquillity where it exists and enhances soundscape in busier and more energetic places, is the best way to deliver better sounding spaces and places which contribute to improved health, wellbeing and quality of life.
Image credit: OpenStreetMap for Tranquil City

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