Green Cities Fit for Life

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European Soundscape Award Berlin Wins for Innovative Park Design

28th November 2012

A local city park in Berlin has won the European Soundscape Award for its innovative noise reducing design. The Nauener Platz city park’s new design which allows for a more attractive acoustic environment cutting off traffic noise was developed by a consortium led by the Technical University of Berlin (Technische Universität Berlin). The prize was presented at a ceremony on November 6th in London by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Noise Abatement Society (NAS).

Courtesy of New Europe.

The new design of Nauener Platz was developed in order to offer a creative solution to an excessive noise problem and used an innovative approach to its design by involving the local community and businesses in the area to help in the process by holding public discussions and workshops in order to generate ideas and develop a design for their local park. The project also organised ‘sound walks’ to ensure that local people were able to share their views and expertise in the reconstruction of the parks soundscape, by identifying areas which they felt were most noisy and so on.

The overall design featured the installation of audio devices in sculptures and benches which play bird and water sounds as well as building a 1.5 metre soundproof barrier created using stone and plants. Although some traffic can still be heard it has created a more pleasant environment throughout the park. The redesign of the park has also included more attractive playgrounds, sports areas and green spaces which have increased the level of lively sounds from human activities.

The main aim of the European Soundscape Award is to raise awareness about the health implications of noise and to reward European Initiatives that develop solutions that help to reduce excessive noise and create more peaceful environments.

Noise pollution is not only disturbing and a nuisance at times but it can also have a serious affect on our health as it can increase stress levels and disturbs sleep, with prolonged exposure leading to illnesses such as Hypertension and Heart Disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that every year Europeans lose at least 1 million healthy life years as a result of traffic-related noise, proving that by giving people better access to quiet peaceful places it can help to enhance mental and physical health and improve quality of life.

Noise pollution is one of the 12 assessment criteria that applicant cities are evaluated on when entering the European Green Capital Award competition. The aim of the award is to recognise and reward local efforts to improve the environment, the economy, and the quality of life of growing urban populations. The award is given to a city that has improved its urban living environment as a whole through activities such as developing innovative solutions to noise pollution.

For more information on the soundscape award click visit https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/noise/the-european-soundscape-award

For more information on the European Green Capital Award click here

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