The bigger and better the cities around the world are getting, the more problems they have to tackle. As infrastructure develops to sustain a city and its populace, so does the ambient noise. Noise pollution has been a big problem for cities in every decade, especially now that it’s dangers are understood by mankind. Engineers strive to find creative solutions to these. In Amsterdam, landscape architects found an amazing way to dampen the noise pollution generated by Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. They have built a beautiful park around it, and it’s just not any park.
H+N+S Landscape Architects and artist Paul De Kort were hired to come up with a creative solution to this problem. The Schiphol Airport hosts about 479,000 flights each year and the land’s flat surface exacerbates the noise pollution. A polder, which in Netherlands is piece of flat and low-lying land, attracts inhabitants as it is convenient to construct upon. That is why the area began to boast both residential and commercial purposes, bringing the airport only 9 kms away from the city center. Curbing the problem was therefore of high priority. From its longest runway, built in 2003, the landing related sounds can be heard up to a radius of around 30 kms!
The Schiphol Airport’s staff had observed that the noise seemed to be lesser when the land surrounding the airport had been ploughed. This gave the architects the idea to build a park surrounding the airport and let mother nature take care of the noise. Researching upon the science of sound and the dynamics of acoustics, the team came upon the work of German physicist Ernst Chladni. Chladni was also a musician, and well versed in how sound flows. Using his work as a references, they discovered that constructing crests and troughs of land mimicking the wavelength of the sound could curb the problem. A series of hedges and ditches, about 36 feet apart, was built to cancel the effects of noise from the airport.
The park that hosts these features, the Buitenschot, surrounds the entire airport and can be accessed through beautiful bike paths and pedestrian walking paths. To add more appeal to the park, it was given acoustic artworks to host in its grounds. One such piece is called the Listening Ear; a parabolic dish which amplifies sound coming towards it. Visitors can shout and hear themselves louder than actually intended, and have fun with the sounds. A diamond shaped pond adorns the grounds and visitors can walk across it using the “Chaldnipond” bridge, which has mechanics installed to create patterned waves in the pond’s water.