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Sustainable Soundscapes: Noise Policy and the Urban Experience

Mags Adams, Trevor Cox, Gemma Moore, Ben Croxford, Mohamed Refaee and Steve Sharples
Additional contact information
Mags Adams: Acoustics Research Centre, Salford University, Salford, M5 4WT, UK
Trevor Cox: Acoustics Research Centre, Salford University, Salford, M5 4WT, UK
Gemma Moore: Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, Gower Street, London, WCIE 6BT, UK
Ben Croxford: Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, Gower Street, London, WCIE 6BT, UK
Mohamed Refaee: School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, The Arts Tower, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
Steve Sharples: School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, The Arts Tower, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 13, 2385-2398

Abstract: This paper introduces regulatory components influencing city soundscapes in Europe and the UK, illustrating the abatement approach taken within noise policy, demonstrating the importance of individual experience in assessing the soundscapes of urban environments and identifying a terminology to facilitate an introduction of soundscapes into the planning process. Drawing on work from soundscape ecology, a way is demonstrated to coalesce these divergent positions. Reviewing interviews undertaken in Clerkenwell, the paper demonstrates that it is not simply noise levels that are important to people in an urban area. Context, source, distance, temporariness and control over noise, are all relevant to whether people would want to see a particular sound eliminated from their soundscape. Using Schafer's terminology 'keynote sounds', 'soundmarks' and 'sound signals', a rationale is proposed through which experienced soundscapes may be articulated, challenging the strategy of noise abatement which could produce a conformity of soundscape that homogenises place and dissolves local uniqueness.

Date: 2006
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