Article : Green space, soundscape and urban sustainability: an interdisciplinary, empirical study.
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Local Environment The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Volume 14, Issue 2 February 2009 , pages 155 – 172
Authors: Katherine N. Irvine a; Patrick Devine-Wright b; Sarah R. Payne b; Richard A. Fuller c; Birgit Painter a; Kevin J. Gaston c
a Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
b Manchester Architecture Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
c Biodiversity and Macroecology Group, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
This paper addresses two typically separate issues contributing to urban quality of life: increasing noise levels and declining quality of public green space. Drawing from environmental psychology, ecology and acoustical methods, this interdisciplinary research studied the soundscapes of three green spaces in a UK city through interviews with 70 park users, the measurement of habitat and recording of sound levels. The data reveal a prevalence of mechanical sounds and a hierarchy of preference for natural over people and mechanical sounds. There was a link between sound levels, both objective and perceived, and the type of sounds heard. The presence of these sounds varied across sites in part due to the ecological qualities of the place, specifically the presence of birds and shrub vegetation. The results suggest that people’s opportunity to access quiet, natural places in urban areas can be enhanced by improving the ecological quality of urban green spaces through targeted planning and design.