The Living Barrier: Residential architecture acting as a noise barrier near railway corridors
As urban regions increase in population and density, the need for quietness and spaces of relative calm becomes important to inhabitants’ physiological and psychological health and wellbeing. Noises, and the sounds that create them, are treated as a by-product of urban densification and the advancement of technology. This led to uncontrolled and incidental acoustic environments around notable points of urban densification. Each sound adds together in the acoustic environment to create a composition that is labelled collectively as noise. Those in the professions of planning and designing these urban environments have a responsibility to become the composers of the grand aural experience that is the worldly soundscape. In response to this design problem, this portfolio explored how architecture can be designed to enable this sustainable densification of noisy urban environments. It proposed the incorporation of psychoacoustics and R. Murray Schafer’s soundscape philosophy (and ongoing related research) into acoustic design. By understanding the complex creation of the aural experience, this portfolio investigated whether the key to living healthily and sustainably in an inevitably sound-filled urban environment laid in the design of soundscape as a perceptual construct. The investigation translated relevant literature into broad explorations of soundscape design elements at a variety of architectural scales. Using soundscape principles in a design process produced a strong architectural proposition that could solve both densification and acoustic problems. This had widespread and profound implications on architectural design practices. The portfolio therefore prompts further explorations into soundscape design for other architectural problems and applications.