The urban form and the sound environment - Tools and approaches
Cities are always confronted with transition and adaptation. Awareness on urban environmental quality is leading the vision about the built environment’s resilience and sustainability, highlighting the importance of a multidisciplinary framework for urbanisation processes. One of the main concerns is the negative impact of outdoor noise due to road traffic, whereby controlling the sound environment through good quality spatial production is a priority. Europe and other parts of the world are experiencing a chronic traffic congestion problem. The environmental impact of this situation is overwhelming, where 90 % of the health impact due to noise exposure is estimated to be caused by road traffic noise. In this regard, noise maps are seen as a powerful tool in the development of new urban areas, where its noise level underestimation can endanger the wellbeing of citizens. At this rapid urbanisation, divided pronouncements on decision-making are devastating. The aim is to overcome negative aspects derived from a late intervention by including urban sound planning as an opportunity to the user’s experience and wellbeing, avoiding poor patches in the urban configuration and economical burden. The present work is committed to the development of tools for controlling, communicating and designing the sound environment on a level beyond today’s solutions, capable to be included at the early stages of the planning process. First, the study goes through the importance of the quiet side and the implementation of an engineering method as a powerful tool in the urban development, obtaining accurate results compared to measurements. In an attempt to study time variations of traffic within cities and its relevance regarding noise emission (normally overlooked in current noise mapping calculations), a microscopic road traffic modelling tool is developed in the second study, giving useful output for noise level predictions as function of time. The time-pattern analysis opens the possibility to test traffic configurations and explore a large variety of results in the form of descriptors as statistical indicators, calm periods and noise events, and outcomes as difference maps and contribution maps. The third study extends toward the evaluation of the effects of spatial heterogeneity (considered a key strategy to increase the liveability of spaces) on the environmental performance and resilience capacity of the transportation system through the study of noise pollution and its economic impact. The studies presented are using real case scenarios as a test-bed not only for implementation, but mainly for the development of tools.
road traffic noise
Urban sound planning