June 18, 2015

“How This Simple Landscaping Project Quiets an Airport’s Roar”

“Another neat idea from the Netherlands” from gizmodo, via Gladys We.

How This Simple Landscaping Project Quiets an Airport's Roar


Two years ago in the Netherlands, artist Paul de Kort designed an 81-acre park near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. His assignment? To use nothing but landscaping to dampen the noise of airplanes. Such a project had never been attempted—and the science behind his design was discovered almost by accident. …

And yet, as Smithsonian’s Heather Hansman reported last month, the project was a success, cutting airport noise by almost half of what the community around the airport required. De Kort collaborated with a group of architects and scientists who had been studying the noise problem for years to create a landscape that would dampen some of the noise of Schiphol. And they did it by using some very old-school landscape engineering. …

In the late 2000s, Schiphol Airport administrators were looking for a way to deal with the noise that people near the airport frequently complained about. De Kort got involved after meeting the architects on the project, along with acoustic scientists from the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, who had been studying ways to mitigate the roar of jets overhead.

How This Simple Landscaping Project Quiets an Airport's Roar


They had found something interesting, entirely by accident: That plowed fields damped noise. As George Bull explained in The Journal of the Landscape Institute last year, “it was autumn and the land between the runway and the surrounding settlements, which is nearly all arable, had been plowed. And there was less noise.”

The repetitive ridges created by farmers worked wonders to dampen the low-frequency sound waves bouncing around the surface—and they gave de Kort an idea for how to design a system of permanent ridges across the park. …

The Sounds of the Aerotropolis

So, why aren’t our airports surrounded by Chladni-inspired land art yet? For one thing, not all are willing to spend money on an approach to noise mitigation that’s still experimental. And news of the project is still trickling out from the Netherlands to the rest of the world. De Kort says that most of the attention has been from the media, rather than other airports. But then again, he adds, “these are projects that you don’t decide overnight.” …

We’re living in the age of the aerotropolis—but to make airports truly livable, planners may end up looking to a Dutch land artist and an 18th century acoustic scientist for answers.


Full article and more pictures here.

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  1. Awesome. Any concert hall designed knows that wall shapes and material amplify or reduce noise. Why not around other noisy areas like highways or airports ?