Experiment to investigate the acceptance of noise enriched by sound scapes, in cooperation with the concerned local populace.
noise converter



wechsel zu eng


A project by:

arne lösekann,,
tammo hinrichs,
thomas v. pescatore

sample without laermwandler

sample with laermwandler: comming soon


Project description

Sounds represent processes, dynamics and liveliness, though their subjective reception is affected by personal experiences and preconceptions. Thus the typical sound of traffic is, despite its vitality, perceived as noise which in the best case gets masked into the subliminal but more often is regarded as objectionable, unnerving, or even cutting off communications. Classic urban development addresses this by soundproof walls, speed limits and sound absorbing asphalt; in the individual case you can close the windows, use a music player or even avoid noisy places.

But how to deal with places that evade urbanistic solutions if one wants to avoid this seclusion or absence of people – isn't there another way?

What happens if you enrich the ebb and flow of traffic noise by real-time modulated sounds? These sounds would be chosen to be associated with enjoyable situations, like eg. the crashing of ocean waves or the ambience of a forest. That way, the noise becomes a sound scape and if done carefully the area of influence wouldn't get any louder but more diverse.

We are going to simulate this locally, and try to work out the most pleasing sound scapes in
cooperation with residents.

The setup is also planned to give an outlook on possible long term and wide area solutions to the traffic noise problem. These further measures still have to be planned and may be incorporated thematically into the urban development programme of the IBA and IGA.

Experiment setup

The project is designed for an auditorium, sports hall or big parking garage. The actual place shall be chosen in a way that visitors can establish a relationship to their places of residence so their inhibition threshold is lowered.

Visitors enter a darkened room sporting an 8 by 2 meters screen on which the traffic of the „Wilhelmsburger Reichsstraße“ is shown in original size, driven by two video projectors. Four discrete loudspeakers behind the screen output the corresponding, authentic traffic noise.

Now different traffic scenarios get shown (stop-and-go traffic in the morning, normal traffic during the day, the sporadic car in the night, a traffic jam, etc). In front of the screen, four additional loudspeakers are set up; these can be used to overlay the noise with sounds like crashing waves, playing children, classical music or something else. A computer running a custom program models these sounds in a way that they follow the traffic noise in intensity and volume, thus converting the traffic noise into a quasi-artificial sound scape which – so we assume according to our own experiences – will be more pleasing, atmospheric and relaxing to the listener's ear. Also, by not completely overlaying but merely enriching the traffic noise we make sure the overall volume doesn't increase.

Realisation and activation of citizens

Visitors will be presented various means to comment on the project. A guest book allows them to state which sound scapes are the most pleasant and present their own ideas regarding enjoyable sounds. A map of the area, that we will present to the local government afterwards, enables them to pinpoint noisy places. This map will also be posted in public places like government offices, schools or cinemas, or even in postcard form in local bars and restaurants. These postcards can also be distributed in the neighborhood; that way they not only function as an advertisement but also activate the citizens and show them that municipality is addressing the traffic noise issue.

The project is planned to last at least 10 days so it can be open for visitors on two weekends and at least once on each workday. Also, this timespan allows word of mouth to propagate and draw more visitors.


We will produce a DVD with photos and film footage of the event and also containing select sound snippets from the installation itself. Also, all visitors' comments regarding acceptance of different sound scapes will be examinated, hopefully resulting in a detailed analysis about the pros and cons of different types of sound and generating new ideas regarding other pleasant sound scapes.

The documentation is also to be seen as advertising medium for further projects.


It is already possible to install our test setup at problematic places like the aforementioned Wilhelmsburger Reichsstraße and let the sound scapes react to the passing cars in real time. This shows that our project is a possible intermediate step towards a long term solution to the traffic noise problem in an urban context.

So a sensible next step in the course of the urbanistic development of the Elbe Islands would be evolving our project into a solution for select difficult places regarding the IBA/IGA 2013.


21.-30. september 2007 in "halle 13" in wilhelmsburg

24. november 2007, 14h, " IBA-Labor Hafen-Logistik-Stadt" infront of the audimax I at TUHH



arne lösekann - dipl. ing. architektur - bündtwiete 34 - 22880 wedel - tel 0049 151 11507936 - -