Urban Sound Symposium

April 19-21, 2021

Plenary program overview

The symposium will take place on three days; each day is dedicated to a separate topic:

  • Monday, 19 April 2021: Impact of urban sound on life in the city
  • Tuesday, 20 April 2021: Techniques and technologies
  • Wednesday, 21 April 2021: Design and planning

The program of the symposium is shown below.

Monday, 19 April 2021 – Impact of urban sound on the life in the city


BrusselsBeijingNew YorkTitleSpeaker(s)Type
13:0020:0007:00Urban trends and their impact on soundscape
Dick Botteldooren, Arnaud CanKeynote
13:4520:4507:45Post-COVID19, a lasting effect on soundscape?Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp, Francesco Aletta, Juan Bello, Catherine LavandierPanel discussion
14:1521:1508:15Break, visit poster booths, meet
14:4521:4508:45Inequity in urban sound environmentIrene Van Kamp, Chau Chi KwanKeynote
15:1522:1509:15Self reported effects (sleep, annoyance, ...) and healthMark Brink, Danielle Vienneau, Kerstin Persson WayeKeynote
16:0023:0010:00Break, visit poster booths, meet
16:3023:3010:30Public space soundscapes - three continents, three approachesSarah Payne, Jin Yong Jeon, Dan SteeleKeynote
17:1500:1511:15The world wide soundwalk: hands on exploring of the urban soundscapeHands on
18:0001:0012:00Social event

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 – Techniques and technologies


BrusselsBeijingNew YorkTitleSpeaker(s)Type
13:0020:0007:00Smart city sound monitoring and its applications
Juan Bello, Jacopo MartiniKeynote
13:4520:4507:45Break, visit poster booths, meet
14:1521:1508:15Virtual reality for urban soundJulien Maillard, Kurt Heutschi, Catherine GuastavinoKeynote
15:0022:0009:00Break, visit poster booths, meet
15:3022:3009:30Mapping and prediction
Pierre Aumond, Maarten Hornikx, André FiebigKeynote
16:1523:1510:15New approaches to noise reductionKiril Horoshenkov, Timothy Van Renterghem, Jian KangKeynote
17:0000:0011:00Break, visit poster booths, meet
17:1500:1511:15Densification of cities, the challenge for urban soundEfstathios Maragritis, Trond MaagPanel discussion
18:0001:0012:00Social event

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 – Design and planning


BrusselsBeijingNew YorkTitleSpeaker(s)Type
13:0020:0007:00Urban planning: practicionner's experience with soundOscar Breugelmans, Deborah DelaunayKeynote
13:4520:4507:45Break, visit poster booths, meet
14:1521:1508:15Participatory approachesLisa Lavia, Mattia Cobianchi, Carmen Rosas Pérez, Nadine SchützKeynote
15:1522:1509:15Raising awareness and educationJudicael Picaut, Trevor Cox, Papatya Nur Dökmeci Yörükoğlu, Christine KerriganPanel discussion
15:4522:4509:45Break, visit poster booths, meet
16:1523:1510:15Designing the public space sound environmentJordan Lacey, Andy Chung, Gunnar Cerwen, Trond MaagKeynote
17:1500:1511:15Urban sound, quo vadis?Panel discussion
18:0001:0012:00Social event

Abstracts – Techniques and technologies

Smart city sound monitoring and its applications

Juan Bello, Jacopo Martini

Noise monitoring is a key element of noise pollution mitigation. Innovative sensor networks are being deployed in more and more cities and it seems important at this point to describe and compare existing innovative approaches. The key note speakers will present smart city sound monitoring and their applications. The talk will include the presentation of two measurement networks with different characteristics and objectives. The use of machine learning technology, big data analysis, citizen sciences, and the aspects of communication with citizens, will be covered. Finally, specific sensors dedicated to particular applications such as the detection of loud vehicles (acoustic radar) or the monitoring of noise in lively neighbourhoods, will also be described. The key note will conclude with an open discussion on the challenges of noise monitoring in the smart city context.

Mapping and prediction

Pierre Aumond, Maarten Hornikx, André Fiebig

Following the environmental noise assessment approach to predict and map noise to identify areas exposed to harmful noises and to derive actions for protecting residents, newest technological developments promise advanced parameter predictions including listening. For example, NoiseModelling is a free and open-source tool initially designed to produce environmental noise maps on large urban areas which has been used for the production of sound mapping closer to perception using methods that integrate the multiplicity of sound sources and the dynamics of sound environments. Morever, sensor networks allowing permanent noise monitoring over larger areas indicate options for instantaneous, dynamic noise maps always up-to date and useable for immediate actions. Sensor networks could be used to compute more advanced indicators based on time signals generating perception-related, psychoacoustic noise maps. In this context the smart city developments call for advanced noise mapping as well as for improved predictions reflecting actual conditions instead of calculations based on some simplified assumptions. However, if sensor networks focus on overall noise, the need for (automatic) source separation immediately arises. The presentation will highlight the current state of mapping and prediction tools and will discuss the progress made and the challenges to overcome.

New approaches to noise reduction

Kirill Horoshenkov, Timothy Van Renterghem, Jian Kang

The first part of this talk, by Horoshenkov, will discuss the ability of living (green) plants to absorb noise. It will be shown that the leave area density and type of soil substrate are key parameters which affect the ability of these plans to be acoustically efficient absorbers. Different methods of measurement and modelling of the acoustical properties of living plants will be discussed. It will be shown that living plants are also able to scatter a significant proportion of the incident sound energy which is difficult to measure in-situ or in a laboratory with standard measurement methods.

The second part of this talk, by Van Renterghem, will explore the concept of acoustical landscaping as a natural way to mitigate environmental noise. Raising and depressing the landscape, even to a limited extent, shows to be a valuable but underused approach to reduce sound pressure levels. Focus is on measurement campaigns in public spaces and parks that are heavily exposed to road traffic noise. These results will be positioned in the general framework of urban sound reduction by natural means.

The third part of this talk, by Kang, will then explore relationships between sound field and morphology/texture of built-up areas. A number of typical urban areas have been considered, including relatively high-density city built-up area and low-density town areas, covering a range of building heights, from high-rise to two-story buildings. In terms of sound field, a series of indices have been considered, including spatial noise level Ln. Various sound sources have been taken into account. The work is mainly based on simulation using noise-mapping techniques, as well as Matlab programming, where the effects of building arrangements in a given urban area have also been explored based on genetic algorithms.

Abstracts – Design and planning

Urban planning: practicionner’s experience with sound

Oscar Breugelmans, Deborah Delaunay

Montreal and Amsterdam are very different cities, but face similar challenges to combat environmental noise pollution. In this session we will explore the major issues that both cities have to deal with and the challenges they face in the future. How do differences between their legislative frameworks and the availability of noise maps and annoyance data shape the actions that can be undertaken. And what policies, projects and measures have both cities come up with to deal with different noise sources, such as transportation noise, festivals, outdoor terraces and low frequency noise.

Amsterdam has a large housing shortage and limited possibilities to build in a region where different functions compete for the remaining space. We will explore results of their noise policy that obliges the construction of a quiet façade. Montreal has great nightlife’s opportunities but also cohabitation and noise challenges at night. We will examine, in particular, how the city develops a night-time policy to permit a diversified, sustainable, healthy and safe nightlife.

Participatory approaches

Mattia Cobianchi, Carmen Rosas Pérez, Nadine SchützLisa Lavia

The first two talks in this session, by Mattia Cobianchi and Carmen Rosas Pérez, will focus on acoustic inclusivity in the design of indoor and outdoor spaces, promoting the participation of groups with a different sensorial perception. Many guidelines and standards in acoustics have been designed based on average values, often failing to cover the perspective and needs of a large part of the population. This denotes the necessity for rethinking the traditional models and methodologies in favour of broader approaches that include groups such as aural diverse and neurodivergent individuals and auditory subcultures.

The third talk, by Nadine Schütz, will focus on accessibility thinking beyond the regulatory framework and discusses artistic approaches for a more inclusive and multisensory urban landscape design. Schütz investigates the role of sound in the sensitive relationship between people and their environment, considering the diversity of uses and users in public space, her primary field of intervention. This work also implies considering sound together with the other senses, which participate inseparably in our daily environmental experience.

The fourth talk, by Lisa Lavia, will focus on the practical application of ISO soundscape standards in urban planning and development generally, and specifically in the UK. A proposed framework for participatory soundscape planning will be discussed and focus on the central aspect of soundscape management: assessing the perception of space users (i.e. stakeholders) in context. The necessity of integrating aural diversity and aural accessibility, as quality of life, social justice and equity imperatives in current planning frameworks, will be explored.

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