Antonella Radicchi

Antonella Radicchi

Architect and Urbanist, PhD

Places of quiet life in Limerick

To celebrate International Noise Awareness Day 2021 which took place on 28th April, Limerick City and County Council invited its residents to map and assess quiet areas in the city by using the free citizen science app Hush City. Limerick City is planning to use citizen-generated data related to the crowdsourced quiet areas to be given consideration in the Limerick Noise Action Plan 2023-2028

We would like to acknowledge the participation of the Limerick residents in this call and present three of the quiet places mapped in Limerick with the Hush City App.

Castletroy Park

A quiet area was mapped in Castletroy Park. The Hush City app’s user reported that they were prompted to map this quiet place by “pleasure”. They have found this place fairly quiet and indicated “swishing of the trees in the wind” as one of the sounds that contributed in a positive way to the sense of quietness.
Other sounds perceived in the location were human and natural sounds and human movements. Background traffic noise coming from a street lining the park was reported as disturbing the sense of quietness. The user reported that in this quiet area people were engaged in activities like walking, relaxing, waiting, talking.

This quiet area is Area #4524 in the Hush City Map. You can listen to the sound recorded in this area and read the comments shared by the user by linking to the Hush City Map here.

George’s Quay

A second quiet area was spotted and mapped in the proximity of the Abbey River along George’s Quay in Limerick City.
The Hush City app’s user reported that they were prompted to map the location by sense of “comfort”. This place was perceived as “slightly quiet” and “lively”, and the “water flow of Abbey River” was indicated as one of the sounds that contributed in a positive way to the user’s sense of quietness.
Sounds coming from a construction site was reported as disturbing the sense of quietness of the place. The user also reported that in this location people were walking, relaxing, and talking.

This quiet area is Area #4532 in the Hush City Map. You can listen to the sound recorded in this area and read the comments shared by the user by linking to the Hush City Map here.

Bishop’s Quay

A third quiet area was crowdsourced along the beautiful River Shannon at Bishop’s Quay in the City.
The Hush City app’s user reported that they were prompted to map the location by a sense of “distraction”. This place was perceived as “fairly quiet” and “relaxing”, with sounds of human voices contributing in a positive way to the sense of quietness. Sounds from the water flowing from the Shannon River were indicated as distinctive of the identity of the place.

This quiet area is Area #4528 in the Hush City Map: you can listen to the sound recorded in this area and read the comments shared by the user by linking to the Hush City Map here.

Would you like to participate and help Limerick City identify its quiet areas and work towards a plan to protect them?

Download the free Hush City Map and see what you can do with it here on this helpful video!

Text courtesy of Antonella Radicchi and Simon Jennings.

All the datasets associated to the quiet areas crowdsourced with the free Hush City App are available online in the open access Hush City Map.
This blog post is also published on the Limerick Council’s website here.

2020 in retrospective

2020 has been an unparalleled year, plenty with grief, desperation, isolation due to the worldwide outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that it is coming at an end, we believe that it is important to look at it in retrospective and acknowledge the positive things that happened, despite the unprecedented challenges.
In so doing, we would like to acknowledge the beauty of life and thank all of the friends, colleagues, Hush City Ambassadors and users, who supported us along the way, and contributed to make these achievements possible.

Happy, quiet reading!

Hush City for Limerick

Limerick was awarded the title of European Green Leaf City 2020 in recognition of the city’s commitment to better environmental outcomes, and, in January the Municipality of Limerick officially launched the adoption of Hush City app for involving citizens in the creation of the new Limerick Plan of Quiet Areas. However, soundwalks and public events, which were planned to occur in Spring/Summer 2020, were to be canceled due to the pandemic. As a replacement of these activities, on October, 12th 2020, Antonella was invited to present the webinar “Looking for a Quiet Life?” along with Dr Simon Jennings from Limerick City and County Council. The aim of the webinar was twofold:

  • explore the importance of having access to tranquil spaces for your physical and mental well being;
  • invite people, particularly in Limerick, to become citizen scientists and use the Hush City App to tell us about quiet places where they find a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Watch the recording here.

Sustainability and Urban Renewal
In the Summer Semester, Antonella designed and led the seminar “Sustainability and Urban Renewal”, within the context of the Study Program, offered by TU Berlin Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. The aim of this seminar was to critically reflect on the current debate on Sustainable Cities, by looking at the interface of policy-practice, so to assess how sustainability policies have been implemented through urban renewal projects. Berlin was taken as a case study city and the UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 3 Good Health and Well-Being and no. 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities as a reference. The seminar’s content was organized around four themes i.e. urban noise and quiet areas; nature and the city; artificial light and the urban night; and walkable cities. The seminar ran on a combination of online group lessons and individual fieldwork activities. The students were encouraged to use the neighbourhoods where they live as case studies for the development of the individual fieldwork exercises. This activity was particularly appreciated by the students and helped them with dealing with the constraints caused by the lockdown.
Syllabus and evaluations are available here.

Smells, Well-Being and the Build Environment
Since June, Drs. Jieling Xiao, Francesco Aletta and Antonella have been curating the Research Topic “Smells, Well-being, and the Built Environment” for the Journal Frontiers in Psychology. The aim of the Research Topic is to collect a body of work to understand the emotional and wellbeing responses resulted from smells in different public spaces to inform future spatial design and management.
Call for papers is open and available here. Manuscript submission is due by April 30 2021.

Is Berlin a Swim City? Reflections on a walk along the Spree River in Berlin
In July, the article “Berlino Swim City? Riflessioni in cammino lungo la Sprea a Berlino” (“Is Berlin a Swim City? Reflections on a walk along the Spree River in Berlin”) written by Antonella was published in EcoWebTown. Journal of Sustainable Design. The article addresses the contemporary disciplinary debate on the creation of river baths and the restoration of bathing activities as a means of regaining rivers and improving the quality of urban life, by looking at the treatment of the Spree River in Berlin, through the description of three projects: the Spreeweg, the Flussbad Berlin and the Spree2011/WITE.
An English version of the abstract is available here. The article in Italian is open access here.

In August, in parallel to her appointment at TU Berlin, Antonella started a new appointment at Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, as a research associate and scientific project manager of the EU-Citizen.Science project. The EU-Citizen.Science project is an Horizon2020-funded project, which consists in “an online platform for sharing knowledge, tools, training and resources for citizen science”. “The vision for the platform is to aid in the mainstreaming of citizen science, and build on the growing impact of citizens participating in research across the full range of scientific enquiry, by supporting the sharing of knowledge, know-how, and experience between anyone doing or wanting to do citizen science”.
Watch the project teaser here. Explore the platform here.

Sound and the Healthy City
in October, the Leading Editorial of the special issue “Sound and the Healthy City” was published online. The text is written by Antonella along with the editorial team of the special issue. The paper serves as an introduction to soundscape and health from several distinct disciplinary positions and lays a good intellectual foundation for the twenty-two papers published (online) in this special issue. We hope that through a soundscape approach we can encourage fresh thinking about urban sound, including how people perceive and relate to their sonic environments, and show how sound can contribute to health. We believe that this approach can provide a collaborative platform for sound artists, sound technologists, urbanists and local people to work together with public health and create healthier urban environments.
The Leading Editorial is open access here. Publication of the special issue was delayed and it is forthcoming in 2021.

Hush City Soundwalks
In Autumn, despite the lockdown, Hush City Soundwalks continued to take place thanks to the commitment of Hush City Ambassador and colleague Prof. Rosa Maria Alsina.
Rosa and her team led two Hush City Soundwalks for 2020 in Sant Cugat and for the Science Week in the Superblock of Sant Antoni in Barcelona.
What the teaser of the Hush City Soundwalk in Sant Cugat here.

Is Berlin a Walkable City?
For the Winter Semester, Antonella designed and has been leading the Auftragsprojekt “Is Berlin a Walkable City?”, within the context of the Study Program, offered by TU Berlin Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. In Berlin, such as in Paris, Barcelona, Oslo, Vienna and other European cities, soft mobility is gaining momentum. Specifically, the Municipality of Berlin has taken action to create pedestrian-friendly environments by implementing a planning strategy grounded on 4 Pillars. Against this backdrop, the aim of this project-studio is to address the research question “Is Berlin a Walkable City?”, by means of analyses of case studies proposed by the Municipality of Berlin, who act as Project Partner. For the investigation, the students were invited to select the case studies they would like to investigate among the options proposed, and identify the research methods. They organised themselves in small working groups, and are expected to manage the workflow and elucidate the results of their study work in the final outputs of the project, with the support of the instructor.
Syllabus is available here.

Hush City video at the 3rd CEDD
In December, Hush City was shortlisted and showcased at the 3rd Annual Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival organised online by the European Commission, Joint Research Center, 6-12 December 2020. Video making is courtesy of Limerick City & County Council, Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
Watch the video here.

Press Coverage 2020
Journalists continued showing interest in Hush City throughout 2020. We are grateful to them for the amazing articles they wrote e.g. for WIRED; BBC Future, NewCities, CityLab, and for their support in disseminating Hush City.
Press coverage can be accessed here.

Last but not least, we would like to thank you, the reader, for your attention. We are planning changes in communication and social media management and we do hope you will enjoy them.

Meanwhile, very best wishes for a brighter and healthier 2021!

See you next year,
The Hush City Team

Looking for a Quiet Life?

On October, 12th 2020, Antonella was invited to present the webinar “Looking for a Quiet Life?” along with Dr Simon Jennings from Limerick City and County Council. The webinar was organized as part of Limerick European Green Leaf Event Series and it was moderated by Anne Goggin, Senior Executive Engineer,  Limerick City and County Council.
The aim of the webinar was twofold:

  • explore the importance of having access to tranquil spaces for your physical and mental well being;

  • invite people, particularly in Limerick, to become citizen scientists and use the Hush City App to tell us about quiet places where they find a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. This will help Limerick City and County Council in the formal identification of  ‘Quiet Areas’ which need to be protected from inappropriate changes.

The recording of the webinar is available on the Limerick EGLA2020 YouTube Channel. Limerick City and County Council Team also made a terrific teaser featuring Hush City. Watch the Hush City Teaser!

Sound Reading Tips

Latest Open Access Scientific Publications:

  • Radicchi A. et al. (2020). “Sound and the Healthy City”. Leading Editorial of the special issue Sound and the Healthy City of Cities & Health Journal Editorial.

Antonella and Hush City in the News:

Quiet regards from Berlin,

The Hush City Team

Is Berlin a Swim City?

As a follow up on the article “Berlino Swim City?” [“Is Berlin a Swim City?]  written by Antonella and published in the Scientific Journal EcoWebTown. Journal of Sustainable Design, the September newsletter hosts a commentary written by the landscape engineer Christian Hajer, who expands on the planning and design of Berlin as a Water City.

Happy reading!


The invention of the water city

If you travel from the city center by boat on the Spree in a southeasterly direction to the outskirts of the city, the upper course of the Spree soon opens up behind the Mühlendammschleuse as a rich urban water landscape, lined with residential areas and parks, islands, former industrial and traffic facilities, near-natural forests, port dumps, abandoned military border patrol facilities, allotment gardens, and extensive meadowlands on the outskirts of the city. The river Spree reaches its widest extension in the inner city in the area of the Elsenbrücke bridge and the adjoining Stralau peninsula, in the area of the Rummelsburg Bay. The reunification of Germany offered the opportunity to preserve and develop these unique landscape qualities of the water landscape.  The vision of Berlin Water City  was born. It was based on the analysis that the former industrial city lived too much with its back to the water, did not open itself up to the river and had no real relationship to it. Expert reports on the development of Berlin as a Water City were commissioned, and Water City conferences with guests from Hamburg,Venice, Amsterdam and Copenhagen took place. Early expert reports and outline plans reflect the outcome of this discussion – the idea of Berlin as a Water City, whose perspective quickly narrowed down to numerous housing projects whose realization was considered to be urgent. Various property owners such as the Federal Government, the City Council of Berlin, districts and private owners shaped the location with their very own ideas. They soon concentrated on individual projects such as the modernization of the Osthafen for freight traffic, the development of office and service centers in the area of the Postbahnhof, the development of multi-story apartments around the Strahlau peninsula, and the closure of the A100 freeway ring road over the Elsenbrücke bridge. An important step was the determination of the City Council of Berlin to create a two-sided continuous riverside path along the Spree, which was to be developed step by step.  

Pioneer users as temporary users of  the banks of the Spree

On many plots along the waterfront, leases have been signed for temporary uses such as youth projects, clubs, bars and associations to revitalize the areas. Formerly inaccessible and locked bank properties could thus be used for the first time. A large part of these initiatives were also financially supported by the city. They were labelled „Urban Pioneers“ and were thus also part of the early location marketing. In the summer of 2007, crossing again the Spree River by boat, hundreds of young people could be seen playing and enjoying themselves on the riverbank or dangling their legs, sitting on the bank wall with refreshments in their hands. Hardly any urban space appeared more frequently as a film location for product advertising and Berlin city marketing to deliver the “Berlin feeling”. From about 2010 onwards, this urban space and its activities represented the national and international perception of the city like no other.The opening of many previously inaccessible riverbank areas revitalized the Spree River. The approach is reminiscent of the Place Branding at Tempelhofer Feld. In peripheral areas of the formerly closed airfield, areas were rented for pioneer uses, which were soon to be sold and developed for residential and commercial purposes. However, the implementation of the development plans was stopped here by a referendum in 2014. In the case of the Spree riverbank, too, criticism and resistance from users and residents against the further development plans of the district and investors arose. This culminated in a referendum in 2008, in which 86 percent voted in favor of the proposal of the “Sink Mediaspree” initiative. The demand was to keep a distance of 50 meters from the shore for new construction projects and to limit the construction height to 22 meters.

Swimming and bathing in the river is not possible

There are 40 bathing places in the Berlin urban area, such as the rivers of Dahme, Havel and the city lakes, but not a single one within the city-centre ‘s S-Bahn ring. There, the most obvious thing remained taboo: physical contact with water – swimming and bathing in the river. Physical contact with the element water remained forbidden due to water pollution. One reaction to this was the Badeschiff, a bathing ship that was put into operation in 2004 and enjoyed great popularity. However, in its time the Badeschiff was not understood as a permanent substitute solution, but rather as a kind of transitional solution until bathing in the Spree is possible, once the discharge of waste water from the overflows of the combined sewer system is stopped. This was to be achieved by the Spree 2011 project, which, however, was no longer financed by the city after partial realization of the first test tanks. Over the years, leisure time behavior and demands on urban greenery and landscape-bound sports and recreational activities are experiencing great growth as well as the interest in near-natural but usable open spaces in the city. The increasing heating of the densely built-up inner city areas in the summer months as a result of climate change makes a stay by the water a valuable asset. Other cities are showing the way. In Zurich and Basel, but also in Frankfurt am Main and Munich, urban society is now finding cooling in the river. In Munich, moreover, even a large section of the formerly canalized Isar River has been renaturalized at considerable expense. The project Flussbad in the center of Berlin at Kupfergraben is based on this idea and pursues the goal of establishing a city canal as a central place for public bathing and swimming. Water purification and upgrading of the canal for safe residence are becoming increasingly expensive. What began and was advertised as a sustainable, low-tech engineering-biological project has now developed into a large-scale project with cost risks that are difficult to calculate. The Kupfergraben is a concreted side canal of the Spree with 3-4 meter high bank walls. One advertises with the swim course in the canal, but the project lacks open spaces to stay in the immediate vicinity. Berlin has so far failed to stop the discharge of overflows from the combined sewer system. This would be the basis for the creation of a high-quality urban superspace shaped by water, which would bring the cityscape, water and people together. A water-dominated urban landscape of a new type, characterized by the presence of people on and in the water, a wet counterpart to Tempelhofer Feld. And if the water were clean, one could bathe anywhere in the city. On the Kreuzberg side of the Spree riverbank, there are still a number of possibilities for correction and creative design. There are still areas there that have not yet been developed. There one could also imagine that people could meet and swim there in the future.”

Text courtesy of Christian Hajer.

— Mr. Hajer is a town planner and landscaper. He works as expert guide and speaker in the field of urban development in Berlin. Mr. Hajer’s website:

Summer 2020 News

Here we are! We are back on track with our freshly new series of seasonal newsletters and delighted to share with you some exciting summer bites.

  • Hush City in Portuguese

This Summer Newsletter kicks off a new version of the Hush City app, that includes the Portuguese language, too.
Isn’t amazing?
We are very much grateful to the Brazilian Association for Acoustical Quality – ProAcustica, who kindly sponsored the implementation of the Portuguese language in both the mobile and web-based version of the Hush City app. The Portuguese translation was curated by Eng. Priscila Wunderlich (ProAcustica).
ProAcustica has been a Hush City Ambassador for the past few years, conducting Hush City Soundwalks in Brazil and promoting the project in South America. We look forward to novel joint initiatives. Stay tuned!

Do you speak Portuguese? Are you curious to check the Hush City app in Portuguese?

Download Hush City from iTunes and Google Play and let us know what you think 🙂

For those, who are not familiar with the app, Hush City is available also in English, German, Italian and Spanish. The previous two versions were supported by a TU Berlin IPODI-Marie Curie Fellowship and by a HEAD-Genuit Foundation Research Grant.

  • New article published

The results of the fieldwork conducted by Antonella Radicchi in New York’s POPS in Spring 2019 are finally available. If you wish to virtually explore some of the quietest POPS in NY have a look here!

  • Hush City & the Berlin Noise Action Plan 2019-2023

In Spring and Summer 2018, Hush City was used within the context of the public participation campaign held for the preparation of the new Berlin Plan of Quiet Areas 2019-2023. The Berlin Senate has recently released the new Berlin Plan of Quiet Areas 2019-2023, that is part of the new Berlin Noise Action Plan (NAP) 2019-2023. An overview of the NAP is available in German here. The Annex dedicated to the new Berlin Plan of Quiet Areas 2019-2023,featuring Hush City is available in German here.

  • Hush City in the Press

Below, a couple of articles and a podcast (in German) featuring Hush City. We are very grateful to the journalists and podcaster producers for consideration and for helping disseminating the project around. Happy reading!

The invisible threat of noise pollution: how do we protect quiet?
Euronews | August 19 2020

Lärm: Wer belästigt hier wen?
Podcast Planet A | July 21 2020

Will the world be quieter after the pandemic?
BBC article | June 17 2020

Smart phone app to find ‘quiet places’ in Limerick
Limerick Leader | June 16 2020

Using Hush City to identify quiet and tranquil areas in Limerick
I Love Limerick  | June 16 2020

Con la fine della quarantena è tornato il rumore, ed è un problema
WIRED Italia | May 26 2020

Quiet regards from Berlin,
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team


Citizen-generated data for public policy

The Joint Research Center (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, has recently published an open access Technical Report on citizen-generated data projects which have an impact on public policy (Ponti & Craglia 2020).

We are honored that Hush City has been featured in this Report, and we would like to share with you a brief overview of its content*.

According to the authors, the main aim of the Report is to raise open questions on what citizen-generated data can do for:

  • experimenting new forms of public participation
  • rethinking the relationships between citizens and local governments, and
  • understanding new emerging roles for citizens and local governments.

The Report presents 18 European projects, which have two common characteristics. They are driven by: 1) the concern about local problems that affect citizens’ quality of life, and 2) the need to provide evidence for local authorities to take action, by involving citizens to collect data on environmental issues, e.g. air and water quality.

The Report describes in greater detail five projects, by means of interviews conducted with the organisers of selected projects. Hush City is among these five projects and extracts of the interview with Antonella Radicchi are included throughout the text.

Three main aspects of citizen-generated data and how they reconfigure the relationship between citizens and the public sector, are identified in the Report.

First, digital technologies can change the way citizens look at the environment, and facilitate data creation as a meaningful social activity. In turn, citizen-generated data projects hold the potential to turn citizens into agents of change in the places where they live.

Second, citizen-generated data hold the potential to enable citizens to “achieve” citizenship. In fact, by collecting data, citizens can take up responsibility and help in solving urban problems.

Third, citizen-generated data may not be as accurate as data produced for regulatory compliance. However, it could raise different concerns and possibilities, useful to integrate the representation of reality provided by official data.

Did you like this overview? Then, read the full Report here.

Do you regularly participate in citizen-generated data projects? Share your experience with us, by sending an email to

Quiet regards from Berlin,
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team

* Data and text source: Ponti M. and Craglia M. Citizen-generated data for public policy, European Commission, Ispra, 2020 JRC120231

Hush City 4 the International Year of Sound 2020

Do you know that 2020 is the International Year of Sound?

The International Year of Sound – according to the dedicated website – “is a global initiative to highlight the importance of sound and related sciences and technologies for all in society. The International Year of Sound will consist of coordinated activities […] [which] will aim to stimulate the understanding throughout the world of the important role that sound plays in all aspects of our society. As well, these activities will also encourage an understanding of the need for the control of noise in nature, in the built environment, and in the workplace”.

To celebrate the International Year of Sound 2020, Antonella set up the 2020 Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks, which will take place in multiple cities worldwide throughout the year. Starting on April 29, 2020, for the celebration of the International Noise Awareness Day and continuing during the year, a number of Hush City Soundwalks will be guided by different soundwalk leaders in multiple locations worldwide, using the Hush City app.

Celebrate with us the International Year of Sound and join a Hush City Soundwalk!
It’s simple.

  • Have a look here at the 2020 Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks
  • Find the Hush City Soundwalk you would like to join
  • Make sure to download Hush City app prior to the event
  • If curious, read A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking
  • Join the Hush City Soundwalk & enjoy it!
  • Share with us your experience, by using the hashtags: #IYS2020 #HushCitySoundwalks

Or… Take the lead and organize a Hush City Soundwalk in your city!

  • Read the How-To Leaflet  on how to design and lead a Hush City Soundwalk
  • If you wish, read A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking 
  • Download Hush City app and familiarize yourself with it prior to the soundwalk
  • Set up a route, schedule the event and involve your community in the soundwalk
  • Share with us the information related to the Hush City Soundwalk, if you wish to be part of the 2020 Global Program
  • & Happy Hush City Soundwalking!

If you wish to lead a Hush City Soundwalk and become a Hush City Ambassador, get in touch with us and send an email to

Quiet regards from Berlin,
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team

The 2020 Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks is coordinated by Antonella Radicchi in her role of inventor and manager of the Hush City app, and each Hush City Soundwalk is hosted and managed by the different soundwalk leaders & local references, as indicated in the Program.
The Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks is part of the Hush City Mobile Lab project (2018-2020), which has received funding from the HEAD-Genuit Foundation.
The first version of the Hush City app received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under REA grant agreement no. 600209 (TU Berlin – IPODI).
The second version of the Hush City app received funding from the HEAD-Genuit Foundation.

Hush City & Limerick – European Green Leaf City 2020

Happy 2020 to the Hush City Community!

We are happy and proud to announce that Hush City will be partnering with the City of Limerick, Ireland, within the context of the Limerick – European Green Leaf City 2020.

Limerick was awarded the title of European Green Leaf City 2020 (along with Mechelen, Belgium) in recognition of the city’s commitment to better environmental outcomes, with a particular accent on efforts that generate: green growth, new jobs, improved air and acoustic quality in the city, sustainable mobility, energy districts and smart neighbourhoods. An ambitious programme of environmental events is planned for 2020 in Limerick and Hush City will proudly be a part of these European Green Leaf Events!

A kick-off event took place in Limerick on January 23rd, 2020, where Limerick City and the County Council have officially launched Hush City and invited people to use the Hush City app by mapping tranquil spaces in and around Limerick City. Read more here.

Within the framework of the European Green Leaf Week, on Wednesday June 3rd, 2020, Dr. Arch. Antonella Radicchi will be leading a Hush City Soundwalk for citizens in Limerick. The participants will be guided on a soundwalk through quiet areas in Limerick and invited to collect data using the Hush City app. The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours, including an introduction to the activity and a final group discussion with the participants. Meeting point: at the People’s Museum at 6PM.

If you are curious about the European Green Leaf Events, read the full Event Guide here.

Quiet regards from Berlin,
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team

Sound & the Healthy City (5)

The last newsletter of 2019 presents the four new papers which have been recently published online, as part of the special issue “Sound and the Healthy City” for the “Cities & Health” Journal.

This special issue is curated by Antonella Radicchi as a Lead Guest Editor along with a fantastic bunch of guest co-editors (in alphabetical order): Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi, Andy Chung, Pamela Jordan, Sharon Stewart, Aggelos Tsaligopoulos. The aim of this special issue is to put together transdisciplinary contributions which address not only the negative effects of noise pollution but also the positive effects of the acoustic environment on people’s health and quality of life. Read more here about the special issue’s aim.

The original work “Resonance – soundscapes of material and immaterial qualities of urban spaces” is authored by Hanne Wiemann Nielsen, Gertrud Jørgensen & Ellen Marie Braae and it was published online on October 14th, 2019. It presents a case study set up in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. The aim is to research four typologies of urban public space in both cities through the lens of “quiet” and “resonance”. Results indicate that the urban environment has the potential of offering environmental and existential resonance, and points to relations between sound quality and built density. Based on these initial findings it is suggested that soundscape information may offer inspiration for rethinking compact city characteristics such as density and intensity, potentially stimulating cultural uniqueness and diversity and inspire ‘new typology thinking’.
Full article is available here.

The Commentary & Debate piece “Toward a better understanding of pleasant sounds and soundscapes in urban settings” is authored by Eleanor Ratcliffe and it was published online on November 27th, 2019. Whereas much research has focused on unwanted sound, or noise, this piece discusses certain sounds – especially those drawn from nature – which are usually linked to positive outcomes, highlighting an increasing interest in identifying and protecting such sounds within cities to offer opportunities for psychological restoration or recovery. It also argues that explanations of why certain sounds are perceived positively are limited, suggesting that theoretical development is needed in order to integrate available evidence into wider work on environment and wellbeing, and this should include attention to perceptual properties of sounds and their interpretations by listeners.
Full article is available here.

The visual essay “Chiller plant full-scale acoustic simulation in a quiet neighborhood” is authored by Marylin Roa, Matthew Vetterick & Gary W. Siebein and it was published online on November 29th, 2019. It presents dialogues between designers and stakeholders with the acoustical consultant during the design of a new chiller plant at a college in a medium-sized city. In order to understand the noise impact of the proposed chiller plant equipment on the quality of life, a full-scale simulation was constructed to help the community make decisions on which noise mitigation strategy should be used to maintain the existing sounds of the site.
Full article is available here.

The Commentary & Debate piece “Healing the urban soundscape: reflections and reverberations” is authored by Marcia Jenneth Epstein and it was published online on December 1st, 2019.
It reports in short the latest Guidelines from the World Health Organization which present the role of noise in damaging health, highlighting how ambient urban noise from traffic and infrastructure raises risks for heart disease, stroke, depression, and chronic anxiety. This essay also draws the reader’s attention to effective developments in design and planning, rooted in the paradigm of soundscape studies, which can contribute to supporting public health through the creation of quiet spaces and soundscape modifications.
Full article is available here.

Did you enjoy reading this newsletter?

In the next weeks, we will be featuring the final two articles of the special issue “Sound and the Healthy City” and we will give a sneak peak of the leading editorial. Stay tuned!

Quiet regards from Berlin and… Happy New Year!
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team

Soundwalking in Barcelona

The December newsletter features in greater detail the Hush City Soundwalk held in Barcelona on September 27th within the Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks for Sound Walk Sunday 2019.

We are grateful to the guest authors: Marc Freixes, Gerard Ginovart-Panisello and Dr. Rosa Maria Alsina-Pagès for their fantastic contribution.

Happy reading!

The Hush City Soundwalk held in Barcelona, Spain, was hosted by the local partner Dr. Rosa Maria Alsina-Pagès (La Salle University) and was led by Dr. Antonella Radicchi (TU Berlin) with a group of 15 local participants in the neighborhood Poblenou.

Hush City Soundwalks were initiated by Dr. Antonella Radicchi in 2017, in parallel to the release of the Hush City app: they are free, public soundwalks guided in search of quietness, in which the Hush City app is exploited to map and evaluate quiet areas in cities [1].

The Hush City app empowers users to identify, access and evaluate everyday quiet areas in their neighborhoods, therefore contributing to their protection and planning by municipalities. Data collected with the Hush City app is linked in real time to the Hush City Map, a web-based map accessible to everyone interested in finding quiet areas near the places they live or in other cities worldwide.

Barcelona strives to be in the lead as a city for which the streets and squares are places of encounter and play, of cultural, economic and social exchange. A city with the cleanest air, plenty of green spaces and peaceful traffic. A city in which people use and enjoy being in public spaces. The program ‘omplim de vida els carrers’ (We fill the streets with life), implements the Supeblocks model in Barcelona (Superilla in Catalan). The project requires everyone’s involvement through a participatory process with neighborhoods and collectives from the areas where the superblock is implemented. They participate in the analysis and design of each Superblock and adapt the model to the characteristics of the area and the specific needs of each case [2]. The aim of the soundwalk in the Superblock Poblenou was to assess whether it could act as a quiet area for Barcelona. Since the superblock model already incorporates participatory planning practices it is an excellent place for inclusionary studies.

Image displaying the map of the Superblock Poblenou, comparing the urban planning street use before and after the implementation of the Superblock project [3].

The Poblenou neighborhood has transitioned from being essentially an industrial site to becoming a mixed space of residential and business areas. Therefore, the spaces promoted by superblocks can be considered for new developments not only now but also for determining future uses.

Image illustrating the soundwalk route held in Barcelona on September 27th. The Poblenou Superblock is marked with a red frame, and the soundwalk’s stops are indicated with numbered markers. This image shows a satellite perspective from Google maps (Map Data: Google 2019)

The soundwalk began on public space within an inner block (Ada Byron Square, see point 1 in Fig. 2), where Dr. Radicchi gave the introduction to the activity. The soundwalk consisted of a guided walk through the superblock Poblenou, with five listening points (see Figure 2). At each location, the participants were invited to first actively listen to the environment for 1-3 minutes in silence, and afterwards assess the location through the Hush City App.

The first listening point was inside the superblock in a green area between the Museum Can Framis and the road (see Figure 3). The second listening point was located between the Museum and the school “Escola flor de maig”. This street has been pedestrianized and the street is currently being used as a public space with plenty of tables, sculptures and a playground. The third listening point was located in an office area next to the Hotel Ibis Barcelona (in Pza Glories 22). In this location minor Tactical Urbanism-orientated interventions were done, consisting of painting the asphalt and installing benches and tables, where office workers usually have lunch. The fourth listening point was in the border of the superblock along a trafficked road and traffic noise dominates the acoustic environment. The soundwalk ended at the fifth listening point, in proximity to one of the access areas of the superblock (point 5 in the map). Here road traffic was also very apparent.

Participants collection ting data and observations at the listening point #1 of the Hush City Soundwalk in Barcelona. Image source courtesy of LaSalle University.

At the end of the soundwalk, a rewarding group discussion took place and the participants shared their impressions of the soundwalks and the soundscapes. The participants were interested by experience, reflecting on how their perspective and senses impacted their opinions of the space. The superblock concept was also discussed. Although the implementation of the superblock seems to have a positive impact on the acoustic environment, there are some neighbours who are opponents to this concept, especially those living along the superblock’s boundaries, where signs against the superblock can be seen appended to balconies. Finally, the importance of public awareness about the quality of the acoustic environment in urban areas was also discussed. Some participants noted that children should be taught about sound and noise at school.
A press release featuring the Hush City Soundwalk was then published by La Salle and it is available here.

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Quiet regards from Berlin!
The Hush City Mobile Lab Team

[1] Dr. Arch. Antonella Radicchi Soundwalks 
[2] Ajuntament de Barcelona, Superilles 
[3] Ajuntament de Barcelona, Poble nou Superilles 

The Global Program of Hush City Soundwalks is initiated and coordinated by Antonella Radicchi in her role of inventor and manager of the Hush City app, and it is part of the Hush City Mobile Lab project, which has received funding from the HEAD-Genuit Foundation.
Hush City app received funding from TU Berlin IPODI-Marie Curie Program (2016-2018) and from the HEAD-Genuit Foundation (2018-2020).