Soundscape quality of urban parks and gardens

Invited paper

Jeanne Lafon

Université de Cergy Pontoise

Wednesday 3 june, 2015, 10:40 - 11:00

0.6 Madrid (49)

Nowadays, many studies show that in urban environments, parks and gardens are acclaimed for the quality of their soundscape. The purpose of this study is to accurately identify the specific sound qualities of these places. First assumption : Landscape design of parks and gardens and their integration into the urban environment may induce specific sound qualities. Thus, a selection of four parks and gardens with landscape structures representative of the other Parisian parks has been made to conduct this study. Then, the selected parks are divided into landscape's sub-entities which then constitute the spatial units of the study. Second assumption : According to the different functional, sensitive, or symbolic expectations of the users, the perceived qualities of the soundscape may differ. Then, for each landscape sub-entity in the gardens, ten semi-structured interviews are made with the users. According to the principles of an inductive methodology, there is no a priori assumption about the nature of the sound experience of the users. A first qualitative data analysis identifies three major themes that structure descriptions of the sound environment: The presence of the city, the human presence, and the presence of the nature. Then, a second qualitative data analysis reveal a set of descriptive units for each theme. Those descriptive units are of various kinds: “shapes” describe the plastic of the garden, “effects” describe the sensitive impressions, “images” concerns the representations the soundscape may evoke and “practices” which concern the way users act in the garden. The last step of the analysis compares the perceptual datas to acoustic measurements. A Principal Component Analysis confronts, theme by theme, the descriptives units extracted from the users speeches with acoustics indicators from measurements.

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