Sustainable Urban Village
SUSTAINABLE URBAN VILLAGE IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA
A sustainable urban village was proposed for part of Gainesville and in the initial site analysis and design process, a soundscape study was conducted. The project involved a number of different areas incorporating architects, planners, urban designers, and transport specialists to create an integrated solution to infrastructure and sustainable urban development. The site was next to the University and had a number of heavily congested roads that surrounded a mixed land-use area of residential apartments, commercial premises and public services. The cooperation between the different departments involved in the project, the identification of three different strategies to improve the soundscape, and the involvement of numerous relevant parties, seemingly provided a beneficial way to plan for the soundscape in a realistic manner, complementing the overall project of the development of the site.
The focus groups between the involved parties identified a number of elements that could be altered to improve the general physical and social qualities of the area, which in turn affect the soundscape. These included more entertainment (e.g. restaurants and retail providing social sounds), ecological solutions to stormwater (e.g. natural areas providing natural sounds) and the provision of more environmentally friendly transportation solutions (e.g. cycling, walking, and quiet buses providing less transport noise). In addition to the transportation, infrastructure and architectural alterations, acoustical interventions were also proposed. These were grouped into three types: remove, buffer or mitigate the negative sounds in the area (e.g. from the busy trafficked roads); preserve and/or enhance existing positive sounds; and add sounds that could aid the urban design of the area.
For the three types of acoustical interventions, negative sounds were removed by switching buses to electric, reducing mixed traffic flow, and encouraging different forms of transportation. Buffer zones were created by separating pedestrian and bicycle routes from the traffic roads, with the use of acoustical barriers, planting and landscaping to help define space. By providing distance between traffic sounds and other activities, and locating similar activities together (e.g. cafes, parks) the positively evaluated sounds are preserved such as natural sounds and audible conversations. In addition, by designing related spaces near to each other, and with careful planning, desired sounds can flow between the spaces, attracting more people to the activities. Alternatively, quiet areas can be created by blocking the flow of sounds between the different spaces.