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Not all sound is noise in heavily populated areas

DEC 08, 2023
Sound perception in residential high-rises can impact quality of life.
Not all sound is noise in heavily populated areas internal name

Not all sound is noise in heavily populated areas lead image

High-rise residential buildings are a dominant form of urban housing in heavily populated areas including many East Asian cities. The high-rise districts are closed or semi-closed with railings, and the outdoor spaces are used primarily by the residents. Because of the loneliness, stress, and anxiety that often exist in these areas, outdoor spaces are especially important to human well-being, and the acoustic environment is a major factor affecting human comfort levels.

Previous studies have focused on measurable variables, including traffic noise, building density, and noise barriers in urban public spaces. Zhu et al. studied a subjective acoustic dimension, called soundscape, present in the public areas of urban high-rise communities.

“In residential communities, sound quality assessment was typically based on noise annoyance,” said author Hui Ma. “Research on soundscape reveals that human perception of sound environment is often complex and multidimensional, rather than just negative.”

The team used on-site surveys to evaluate the soundscape. The results showed four perceptual dimensions: relaxation, communication, quietness, and spatiality. The former three dimensions contributed significantly to the overall soundscape satisfaction. Improvement of these three factors may lead to a higher chance of a positive overall evaluation. A comparison of perceptual models from other types of urban spaces revealed that the soundscape assessment depends largely on the space context.

Because outdoor public spaces are critical to the quality of life, understanding the perceptual structure of soundscapes embedded in high-rise communities will require different guidelines than exclusive noise monitoring.

“This study established a novel multidimensional scale for sound environment assessment based on residents’ perception,” said Ma. “This model could guide future environment design practices.”

Source: “Characterization of soundscape assessment in outdoor public spaces of urban high-rise residential communities,” by Guofeng Zhu, Jian Kang, Hui Ma, and Chao Wang, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0022531 .

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