Some airports are experimenting with a new solution: Land art that disrupts sound waves while doubling as a park. At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of the largest travel hubs in the world, a sprawling field filled with a pattern of ridges sits next to the largest runway. When planes take off, the ridges absorb and deflect the drone of the engines on the ground. This cuts noise in half for people living in nearby neighborhoods.
They happened to notice that noise levels decreased in the fall, when nearby fields were plowed into ridges and furrows. After testing a prototype of artificial ridges, they decided to recreate the effect permanently. The design includes 150 ridges, each about 10-feet high and 36-feet wide, surrounded by small furrows. Inside the ridges, visitors can walk through maze-like paths or have picnics in outdoor “rooms” surrounded by the walls of the ridges.
Airports are commonly large generators of noise pollution, therefore looking at some techniques to manage sound in these locations offers ways to look at my design opportunity. Not only does this article highlight natural elements that can be used for absorbing/blocking sound, prototyping methods were introduced that can inspire techniques for my own prototyping phase. Ridges and barriers can provide sound management, as well as dividers for individualized spaces.