The ingenious plan has reduced noise by at least ten decibels.
The Schiphol Airport — located 9 kilometers outside of Amsterdam Center — is one of the noisiest airports in Europe, boarding more than 50 million passengers a year.
The airport is situated in a vast and extensive lowland that used to be the bed of a lake. This area also happens to be one of the most crowded parts of town.
For years, the airport had received noise complaints from those living nearby, who described a “constant rumbling”. This specific type of noise is called ground-level noise and is given to occur in flat areas where no hill or other natural or man-made infrastructure serves to break the sound waves.
After a series of complaints, the airport brought a team from the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research to direct a study on how to confront the issue. They discovered that noise levels were significantly lowered when farmers left mounds of earth around after plowing the land.
Airport authorities realized blocking the sound wasn’t the solution to the noise pollution. Paul De Kort and H+N+S Landscape Architects were brought on to brainstorm. The architects, along with De Kort, designed 150 symmetrical triangular furrows with six foot high ridges. This simple design — that combines hedges and ditches — reduced noise levels by almost a half.
Connected to the airport, De Kort collaborated with the architecture house to design 36-hectare Buitenschot Land Art Park to house the triangular furrows. The park combines a series of smaller parks, footpaths and a paved bicycle lane. The artist also contributed two works of art — a diamond-shaped pond called the “Chaldnipond” and a parabolic dish named the “Listening Ear”.
Paul De Kort claims to have been inspired by German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni– called the father of acoustics. The 19th-century scientist is mostly known for his research on vibrating plates. In an experiment, Chladni sprinkled sand into the plates and subjected them to vibration. This caused the sand grains to reorganize in geometric patterns, which helped him visualize the relationship between sound and particles.
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