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Conference_programme: 12.1 - Noise control in low emission zones

Lecture: Rethinking Noise

Author(s): Cobussen Marcel

It is a well-known issue now for some decades: noise pollution in public urban spaces is a growing environmental concern. High noise levels may cause serious health problems and stress, while there is as yet no complete and integrated policy for noise management. However, several interventions can reduce the amount of noise: restriction of motorized traffic in densely populated areas; lower speed limit; the use of low-noise asphalt; the creation of more pedestrian zones; the promotion of cycling, walking, and carpooling; etc.\n\nWhat I am interested in here are the types of discourses and social, psychological, political, ethical and other ideologies on which the idea of noise pollution and its inevitable solution, the reduction of sounds, is based. By doing this I have no intention to downplay the necessity or effectiveness of noise abatement strategies. The aim of this presentation is to be on the alert for tunnel vision in which the word “sound” is almost by definition replaced by the word “noise” and thereby turned into a problem for which there is only one solution: to get rid of it.\n\nMy presentation will consist of three meditations, three brief reflections:\n1. To rethink the concept of noise and to somehow stand up for it. To give just one example here: loudness alone does not always account for why some sounds are experienced as being noisy.\n2. To propose a change in the current discourse by replacing the word “noise” by “sound.” Whereas noise is conceived as a waste product, sound can be regarded as a resource with a focus on usefulness.\n3. To propose an alternative for the reduction of noise/sound as the only solution for noise pollution. Here I will argue to get sound artists and composers involved in the (re)designing of public urban places as they can come up with alternative ideas to improve their sound quality. \n

Corresponding author

Name: Prof marcel cobussen

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Country: Netherlands