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August 28, 2018

Amsterdam Airport’s Unique Landscape Art Is Actually A Low Frequency Noise Baffle

Airport noise baffles on Bobby Owsinski's Production BlogIf you’ve ever lived around an airport you know how impossibly loud it can get. I live in the flight path of the Burbank/Hollywood Airport on days the winds blow north/south, even with some pretty good insulation it can still be distracting. Imagine what’s it’s like to live near the 3rd busiest airport in the world. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport deals with 1,300 flights per day (that’s nearly a flight every minute) and it’s near one of the heaviest populated areas in Europe. Since it’s an extremely flat part of the word, an aircraft’s ground-level noise propagates across the flat ground and can be heard up to 28 miles away, and that causes a lot of upset residents and lots of complaints.

But the airport has done something about the noise by hiring an architecture firm called H+N+S Landscape Architects and artist Paul De Kort to implement an unlikely solution that presented itself after the land nearby was plowed and the noise unexpectedly dropped.

De Kort dug a series of hedges and ditches just past the edge of the runway with the distance between the ridges spaced at about the wavelength of the aircraft noise output, which is about 36 feet. Then they placed 150 straight, symmetrical furrows with six foot high ridges between them. These form to what amounts to a low frequency baffle that has reduced noise levels by more than half.

Instead of just a series of industrial looking ridges, De Kort has actually made it into a piece of landscape art, and eventually even a park with both walking trails and bike paths. He then took it even further by incorporating an art piece called the “Listening Ear,” which is a parabolic dish that amplifies sound coming from far away, and a diamond-shaped pond called “Chaldnipond” that has a mechanism underneath it which can create waves in the water.

It’s not the ultimate solution to zero noise output, but everyone seems to be happier as a result. Talk about turning acoustic lemons into lemonade! You can see more detailed pictures here.

[Graphics: Paul De Kort and H+N+S Landscape Architects]
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