Experimental research is investigating innovative approaches to managing noise along motorway sound walls, in a partnership between RMIT and UTS.
The collaboration, funded by the Transurban Innovation Grant, aims to determine if noise cancellation and noise transformation technologies can be combined to act as a ‘soundscaping’ tool. Soundscaping designs the sounds of an environment to enhance living and recreational experiences.
The project is an initiative of RMIT’s Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Jordan Lacey, who researches urban sound design at SIAL Sound Studios, which is based in RMIT's School of Architecture and Design’s research centre, d__Lab.
“Through this project, a wonderful opportunity emerged to bring together a range of world-leading experts to conduct unique experimentations into the potential shaping of motorway noise into new listening environments,” Lacey said.
The interdisciplinary team spans three research areas – acoustic engineering, sound design and sensory ethnography – each headed by top researchers: Professor Xiaojun Qiu (UTS), Associate Professor Lawrence Harvey (SIAL Sound Studios, RMIT) and Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink (Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT).
The research team also includes internationally recognised audio artist and sound designer Stephan Moore from Northwestern University, and research fellow and sensory ethnographer Dr Shanti Sumartojo (Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT).
Noise cancellation systems can reduce low frequency sounds from cars in and around homes. Noise transformation involves the installation of sound systems, which aim to improve listening experiences in the network of parklands and walking tracks alongside motorway sound walls.
An ethnography research team will be working with communities in Sydney and Melbourne to consider if the combined technologies create any meaningful impacts for residents who live close by.
The research team aims to discover soundscape ‘types’ that might be integrated into future motorway construction and housing design.
“While there is no guarantee the project will lead to actual noise reduction outcomes, targeted local communities and relevant stakeholders will be given the opportunity to trial cutting-edge research approaches to noise management, the outcomes of which could inform future motorway infrastructure projects,” Lacey said.
Story: Alicia Jennings