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Using virtual reality for assessing the role of noise in the audio-visual design of an urban public space

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Abstract
Sound planning is not often included in the urban design process despite the well-known audio-visual interactions of human perception. A methodology to compare the overall appreciation of future renovation alternatives of urban public spaces using Virtual Reality Technology is proposed. This method is applied to assess the role of noise in the overall appreciation of a walk on a bridge crossing a highway. The auralization is a dynamic 3D surround based on B-format recordings (ambisonics), filtered by means of full-wave numerical calculations obtaining the sound field behind noise barriers along the bridge's edge. Four different styles of visual street design including different noise barrier heights in combination with the 4 corresponding predicted sound fields were evaluated for their pleasantness by 71 normal-hearing participants on 4 separate days. Each day participants experienced all the visual environments with only one soundscape (to elude direct sound comparison) and anything related to sound was not mentioned in the first part of the experiment. Even in this non-focussed context, a statistically significant effect of the sound environment on the overall appreciation was found. In general, the pleasantness increases with traffic noise level reduction, but the visual design has a stronger impact. By mentioning the soundscape while introducing the evaluation, slightly lower (but statistically significantly different) pleasantness ratings were obtained. Instead of increasing noise barrier height, improving the visual design of a lower barrier seems more effective to increase pleasantness. Visual designs including vegetation strongly outperform others. The virtual experience was rated as immersive and realistic.
Keywords
ROAD TRAFFIC NOISE, PERCEPTION, ENVIRONMENT, SOUND, VEGETATION, LANDSCAPE, ANNOYANCE, BARRIERS, VISION, AREAS, Audio-visual interactions, Virtual reality, Ambisonics, Urban design, Urban sound planning, Public space

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Citation

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Chicago
Echevarría Sánchez, Gemma María, Timothy Van Renterghem, Kang Sun, Bert De Coensel, and Dick Botteldooren. 2017. “Using Virtual Reality for Assessing the Role of Noise in the Audio-visual Design of an Urban Public Space.” Landscape and Urban Planning 167: 98–107.
APA
Echevarría Sánchez, G. M., Van Renterghem, T., Sun, K., De Coensel, B., & Botteldooren, D. (2017). Using virtual reality for assessing the role of noise in the audio-visual design of an urban public space. LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING, 167, 98–107.
Vancouver
1.
Echevarría Sánchez GM, Van Renterghem T, Sun K, De Coensel B, Botteldooren D. Using virtual reality for assessing the role of noise in the audio-visual design of an urban public space. LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Bv; 2017;167:98–107.
MLA
Echevarría Sánchez, Gemma María, Timothy Van Renterghem, Kang Sun, et al. “Using Virtual Reality for Assessing the Role of Noise in the Audio-visual Design of an Urban Public Space.” LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING 167 (2017): 98–107. Print.
@article{8537532,
  abstract     = {Sound planning is not often included in the urban design process despite the well-known audio-visual interactions of human perception. A methodology to compare the overall appreciation of future renovation alternatives of urban public spaces using Virtual Reality Technology is proposed. This method is applied to assess the role of noise in the overall appreciation of a walk on a bridge crossing a highway. The auralization is a dynamic 3D surround based on B-format recordings (ambisonics), filtered by means of full-wave numerical calculations obtaining the sound field behind noise barriers along the bridge's edge. Four different styles of visual street design including different noise barrier heights in combination with the 4 corresponding predicted sound fields were evaluated for their pleasantness by 71 normal-hearing participants on 4 separate days. Each day participants experienced all the visual environments with only one soundscape (to elude direct sound comparison) and anything related to sound was not mentioned in the first part of the experiment. Even in this non-focussed context, a statistically significant effect of the sound environment on the overall appreciation was found. In general, the pleasantness increases with traffic noise level reduction, but the visual design has a stronger impact. By mentioning the soundscape while introducing the evaluation, slightly lower (but statistically significantly different) pleasantness ratings were obtained. Instead of increasing noise barrier height, improving the visual design of a lower barrier seems more effective to increase pleasantness. Visual designs including vegetation strongly outperform others. The virtual experience was rated as immersive and realistic.},
  author       = {Echevarr{\'i}a S{\'a}nchez, Gemma Mar{\'i}a and Van Renterghem, Timothy and Sun, Kang and De Coensel, Bert and Botteldooren, Dick},
  issn         = {0169-2046},
  journal      = {LANDSCAPE AND URBAN PLANNING},
  keyword      = {ROAD TRAFFIC NOISE,PERCEPTION,ENVIRONMENT,SOUND,VEGETATION,LANDSCAPE,ANNOYANCE,BARRIERS,VISION,AREAS,Audio-visual interactions,Virtual reality,Ambisonics,Urban design,Urban sound planning,Public space},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {98--107},
  publisher    = {Elsevier Science Bv},
  title        = {Using virtual reality for assessing the role of noise in the audio-visual design of an urban public space},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.05.018},
  volume       = {167},
  year         = {2017},
}

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