Conference paper

Qualitative evaluation tool of built environment soundscapes: report on a prototype data collection tool

Urban planning Acoustic engineering Public spaces Perth
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Sound is a dynamic part of the urban landscape and is increasingly understood to be a central aspect that helps to shape people’s experiences of the public realm. Australian urban planners, however, have little engagement with the theories on urban sounds, and as a result, no methodologies have developed to evaluate, describe and measure the quality of sound in the landscape. The current approach to urban sound is limited to noise mitigation focused exclusively on decibel counts. Although widely adopted, this approach bypasses the full-scope of acoustic quality resulting in acoustic landscapes developing by chance rather than design. Through mapping listener experiences of spaces in Perth city, this paper argues that the current approach to sound does not do enough to assist in making urban experiences pleasant. Applying Schafers Soundscape theory, a prototype evaluation tool was developed, enabling listeners to self-evaluate the sounds of spaces. The sum of participant data generated a detailed and specific qualitative map of an area's acoustic landscape. Responding to the ‘knowledge gap’ in urban sound policy, this paper reports on a soundscape approach intended to inform improvements in industry practice through advancing the understanding of sound quality in urban public open space.

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