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Future Cities blog #3 Do you ever stop and listen to the city?

#3 Do you ever stop and listen to the city?

Do you like what you hear? As cities are growing, the noise exposure increases and quiet areas has become a scarce commodity. This calls for innovation and measures to preserve the spaces that we need for recreation.

More than noise

We encourage the future city to consider the sounds they want to preserve, rather than focusing on noise only. Sounds can play many roles in people’s lives, also positive roles. There’s no way around it, cities have buzz! However, we can take control of the buzz and create a more balanced sound environment. ÅF Sound & Vibration has the competence to explore how sound can be managed when creating human spaces.

The science of sound and its emotional effect is widely explored. We’ve been involved in a broad spectra of projects within infrastructure, community and building acoustics and this know-how can be applied to further applications. To make more efficient use of the physical infrastructure in the future city, sound could support a strong social and cultural development.

Focus on sounds in Helsingborg

When the city of Helsingborg needed support in noise management, we were happy to put our know-how and ambition into practice. The assignment is to conduct a noise mapping study and to present our analysis and vision for noise management. The results will be presented to Helsingborg in December 2018.

On September 18th we conducted sound measurements in four parks areas, including a sleepover in the city park. The purpose of the sleepover was to understand how urban sounds change during day and night. In the daytime many sounds drown in traffic noise, but during nighttime new sounds emerge. It’s our belief that the key to a balanced sound environment is to understand which sounds to preserve and perhaps enhance, as well as reducing the noise.

During this study, the aspect of an inclusive society was also of great importance to us. Parks in an urban environment are used by different people on different terms. it’s important to understand that the urban space is used and owned by everyone. Listening to the citizens was equally important as listening to the city.

The night in the city park was spent in hammocks hanging from the trees. The devoted team of ÅF consultants who listened to the city and its citizens consisted of acoustician Manne Friman, sound designer Martin Hallberg and landscape architect Linn Stevensson.

We look forward to present our study to the city of Helsingborg and hope to see the vision realized. With this assignment we see the need of innovative actions for creating human spaces in the future city. 

Text by Hilde Rosenberg Bülow & Martin Hallberg.