Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Architectural Manipulation of Sound: Architecturally Articulating Urban Space to Protect and Enhance the Outdoor Acoustic Environment

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posted on 2021-11-12, 23:27 authored by Rieper, Andrew

To date, ‘Urban Design’ has seldom accounted for the quality of the acoustic environment. The significance of sound in the urban environment is understated. This is evident in design attitudes towards Urban Acoustics, which are essentially objective; based on ‘Noise Control Methodologies’, limited by quantitative values and void of sonic variety. The aim of this thesis is firstly, to determine whether an acoustic agenda could be successfully introduced into the urban design process, and secondly, to assess the aesthetic impact of imposing such an agenda on the built environment. To explore these ideas, the thesis combined research from three fields; Urban Design (‘Public Places, Urban Spaces’ by Carmona et al.), Urban Acoustics (‘Urban Sound Environment’ by Jian Kang), and Soundscape Philosophy (founded by R. Murray Schafer). A series of experiments were then conducted using noise propagation software ‘CadnaA’, which studied the acoustic performances of different Street and Open Space Layouts. Conclusions drawn from these experiments and the analysed literature provided the framework for an Urban Design Proposal located in central Wellington, which was used as a means to assess the viability of this design approach. The results of the design-research process suggest that an acoustic agenda can be integrated into the urban design process with relative ease and little conflict, and that many of the Soundscape philosophies inherent in Urban Acoustic Design actually complement well-established Urban Design Principles. Additionally, while this approach is most effective in acoustically challenging areas, the intrinsic design principles can be adopted to enhance both the acoustic and visual aesthetic of any urban design.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


McDonald, Chris