Characterisation of the soundscape in Valley Gardens, Brighton, by a soundwalk prior to an urban design intervention

Invited paper

Francesco Aletta

University of Sheffield

Tuesday 2 june, 2015, 15:20 - 15:40

0.3 Copenhagen (49)

The purpose of the present study was to characterise the soundscape of the Valley Gardens in Brighton before the area is converted into a downtown park. Valley Gardens is located in the busy city centre. It extends from the Brighton Pier at the seafront and approximately 1.5 km to the north. It includes Old Stein, Victoria Gardens, St Peter’s Church, and The Level. In 2015 work will commence on redeveloping Victoria Gardens and St Peter’s Church. In order to characterise the soundscape of the Valley Gardens prior to this urban design intervention a soundwalk was conducted. In October 2014, a group of 21 persons—experts in acoustics and officers of the City Council—were guided through the area together, and assessed the soundscape at eight sites: six within the Valley Gardens and two reference sites. The assessments covered the soundscape quality, how appropriate the soundscape is to the place, the dominance of perceived sound sources, and the affective quality of the soundscape. In addition, binaural recordings and sound-level measurements were conducted at each of the eight sites during the soundwalk. Preliminary results indicate that the Valley Gardens was dominated by the sound of road traffic, and that the soundscape was perceived as inappropriate to the place. Consequently, the planned design intervention should reduce the dominance of road-traffic sound and introduce more positive sounds, like the sound of people and nature. This would be done through careful planning of the landscape and human activities within the area. The plan is to follow-up these results with a post-intervention soundwalk.

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