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Doctoral thesis, 2017

Sound in landscape architecture

Cerwén, Gunnar


Landscape planning and design involve decisions that have far-reaching effects, positive and negative, on the soundscape. However, landscape architecture and related disciplines have not fully recognised the possibilities of considering sound issues in design projects. This is problematic, considering that sound influences health and wellbeing and is an important factor in environmental experience. This thesis examines how soundscape thinking can be facilitated in landscape architecture. The work is based on a mixed-method approach and it is practice-orientated in the sense that it studies how landscape architects currently work with sound and how they could work with sound in the future. The soundscape concept is used to emphasise the experiential characteristics of the sonic environment and to discuss the role of sound in landscape architecture, particularly in noise-exposed situations. Applications of soundscape design are raised in several examples, including construction of a design intervention as a reference project involving noise masking. The understandings obtained are used to formulate a set of strategies and tools for the profession as a soundscape approach to noise, in which problems and possibilities are given consideration to ensure a varied and purposeful environment. A model based on three categories is presented to evaluate and facilitate such a comprehensive approach, where each of the three categories (localisation of functions, reduction of unwanted sounds and introduction of wanted sounds) represents a central consideration that can be taken in landscape architecture. An extended version of the comprehensive model is also presented. It comprises a list of 23 ‘soundscape actions’, each of which represents a concrete, general strategy that can be adopted to improve soundscapes, particularly focusing on noise-exposed situations. To increase applicability, the soundscape actions were developed in collaboration with professional landscape architects, Master’s students, acousticians, artists and other experts. The findings are discussed in relation to contemporary challenges in the profession, particularly focusing on the sustainability discourse and covering issues such as green structures, densification and the notion of ‘quiet areas’.


soundscape design, landscape architecture, acoustic environment, noise, informational masking, urban design, quiet areas, sustainable development

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2017, number: 2017:91
ISBN: 978-91-7760-072-5, eISBN: 978-91-7760-073-2
Publisher: Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

URI (permanent link to this page)