Urban Configuration and the Soundscape

A previously unpublished text by Stadtmusik members Dietmar Offenhuber and Sam Auinger on the relationship between urban configuration and the soundscape.

The morphology of the urban environment and its experience is a topic with many facets, and urban planners and designers developed a rich palette of methods for describing the structural qualities of urban space. Many of these qualities are closely related to the visual experience of urban spaces. For example, Camillo Sitte’s principles of urban design were to a large part justified by their visual effect (Sitte 1901). Consequently, there is a long history of modeling the sensory urban experience based on formal and structural measures of the built form. Not surprisingly, many of these approaches focus on the visual experience of urban space, while the sonic qualities play a secondary role. This paper investigates to what extent the existing urban morphological measures are applicable for understanding the acoustic qualities of urban spaces. This investigation includes a review of the role of sonic qualities in the existing urban design literature, following a framework by A. Sevtsuk (Sevtsuk 2010), dividing these urban form measures into five categories: topological measures, aggregate, morphological, cognitive and observational measures.

Read the text here: Configurational Aspects of Soundscapes (pdf)