What is a soundscape intervention?
The term “soundscape”, as it has been established in the area of acoustic ecology, characterizes an “acoustic environment as perceived or experienced and/or understood by a person or people, in context”.1 A soundscape intervention is a site-specific design to preserve or improve a soundscape. There is a broad variety of interventions conceivable to design soundscapes, ranging from micro-scale actions in specific locations like a park, to interventions on a large scale, referring to a whole city quarter. Soundscape interventions are related among other things to a reduction of unwanted noise, to the introduction of pleasant sounds for masking purposes or to the preservation of soundmarks that embody a local identity.
What makes a soundscape intervention unique from a noise control perspective is that it goes beyond reducing noise levels, to instead promoting or improving the quality of a soundscape as a whole. At the end, a combination of different types of soundscape interventions are frequently applied to achieve a significant impact on residents and soundscape visitors.
1 ISO 12913-1:2014
SEA ORGAN IN ZADAR, CROATIA
In the audio example you can hear the sounds created by the pipes of the Sea Organ.
This mechanical installation with musical features is built into the seaside promenade. The sea waves drive air into a system of pipes similar to a mouth harp, producing a neverending exchange of C major and G major chords. The project was conceived within the wider effort to revitalise the neglected part of the historical city centre, next to the new cruise ships pear on the top of the peninsula. Noise complaints from the nearby residential building apparently have no influence on the management of the installation .
SHEAF SQUARE IN SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM
This installation at Sheaf Square in Sheffield, United Kingdom was implemented in 2006. Promoted by residents and local authorities, it is a permanent installation. Designed by Si Applied Ltd.
In the audio example you can hear the sounds created by the water installations at Sheaf Square.
This square, positioned between the A61 major trunk road and the Sheffield train station, features a dynamic system of water fountains and the Cutting Edge Sculpture, acting as a noise barrier while masking water sounds. It serves as the main entrance to the station and the city. The installation was built as part of the general reshaping of the area .
 Oberman, T., Jambrošić, K., Horvat, M., & Bojanić Obad Šćitaroci, B. (2020). Using Virtual Soundwalk Approach for Assessing Sound Art Soundscape Interventions in Public Spaces. Applied Sciences, 10(6), 2102. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10062102
Photos: Tin Oberman, Xiaochao Chen
Audio: Tin Oberman, recorded September 2017
Entries submitted by: Tin Oberman