Antonella Radicchi

Antonella Radicchi

Architect and Urbanist, PhD

The Reuterkiez “Everyday Quiet Areas Map”

On October 14, the Reuterkiez Stadtteil-Tagung took place and we had a wonderful day of exchanging and debating about the neighborhood. It was also a great opportunity to meet new people and imagine together a quieter future!

Thank you so much to the Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez for having made this event possible and so special, and, of course, thank you to all those who participated with their energy, passion and dedication.

On that day, I had the privilege to set up a corner dedicated to “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” project, thanks to Rabea and Dominik from the Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez who encouraged me to do it.
By means of visual tools, I described the project’s rationale, its goals and methods and I presented the project’s first results through a colourful and interactive map: the Reuterkiez “Everyday Quiet Areas Map”.


The Reuterkiez “Everyday Quiet Areas Map” (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

The “Everyday Quiet Areas” Map

This maps shows the favorite “everyday quiet areas” identified by the participants in the project.
The size of areas relates to the rating given by the participants: e.g. the bigger is the dot, the bigger is the number of participants who indicated that area as their favourite quiet area. The numbers displayed on the dots refer to the pictures of the areas framing the top of the map.
The results displayed on this map come from the overall data collection, which took place between May and September 2017 in the Reuterkiez in Berlin, by means of interviews, soundwalks, and by using the Hush City app. As of September, 30 2017: 19 interviews were made, 5 soundwalks were performed, 45 datasets were collected by participants in the Reuterkiez, by using the Hush City app.

The initial evaluation of data collected through interviews, soundwalks, and the Hush City app, has yielded interesting results. Data evaluation led to a more complex understanding of the notion of quietness in cities, beyond the common definition based on sound levels. For example, in the interviews, people have referred to quiet areas as places, which favor relaxation and social interaction, and are characterized by a mix of natural and human sounds. This association between “everyday quiet areas”, expected on the local scale, and lively, yet relaxing places, resulted also from a cross evaluation of data collected through the soundwalks and the Hush City app. You can read a bit more about the project, its first results and future challenges here.

Like or Unlike it!

During the day, people were invited to evaluate the “everyday quiet areas” identified by the participants in the project, by playing a simple interactive game: the LIKE OR UNLIKE IT! game. A number of red post-its for UNLIKE and green post-its for LIKE were provided and people were invited to place green post-its on the quiet areas they liked, and the red post-its on those quiet areas they did not like. The results can be seen hereafter!


Picture illustrating the results of the interactive game played with people to evaluate the “everyday quiet areas” identified by the participants in the “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” project. (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

What’s next?

These initial results can be said to be advancing soundscape theory and they can be applied in city planning.

But, how?

Keep on following us if you are interested in learning more about the integrated planning process we aim to achieve. The next step indeed consists of establishing a participatory process to draft the “Reuterkiez Everyday Quiet Area Master Plan” and to define planning guidelines on how to preserve and improve the existing  “everyday quiet areas” and, eventually, planning new ones.

If you would like to join us and participate in the planning phase, please get in touch by dropping a message at

Thank you for your interest!

Let’s meet at the Stadtteil-Tagung for a sneak peek of the project’s results!

SttB_TagungDear all,

We are almost there.

The Stadtteil-Tagung organized by Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez is approaching: so, let’s meet next Saturday for an afternoon of debate on issues affecting the neighborhood, such as housing, mobility and public spaces!

It’ll be also an opportunity to know each other a bit further.

I will also be in and I will take the opportunity to share with you the “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” project’s results, collect feedback on them and launch the next step of the project.

And, don’t forget to join us for the LIKE OR UNLIKE IT! Game.There will also be a map displaying the favorite quiet areas identified by the participants in the project and you will be asked to evaluate them, by placing LIKEs/UNLIKEs on them.

See you there, then!
Best regards/Herzliche Grüße

Foyer der Quartiershalle
at Campus Rütli
(12045 Berlin, Eingang Pflügerstraße / Ecke Rütlistraße)
Saturday, October 14 2017
12.00 bis 14.00 Uhr – 12pm- 5pm


Thank you!

beyond-the-noise_(C)ARHello there!
In the past weeks, I have been experimenting with newsletters to keep updated the participants in the project and I thought to post them on the blog, making them available to the public. You know, just in case my followers were wondering how things are going on with the project!
So, here it is the first newsletter. Happy reading!


Dear all,
This note is firstly to thank you all very much for participating in the “Beyond the Noise” project, to update you on what we have done so far and anticipate the next steps.

Time flew away since we kicked off this participatory project to study how to identify, evaluate and protect quietness in the Reuterkiez!

Summer is over and it is also (almost) completed the first phase of the project, in which both empirical data and your feedback about noise pollution and quietness in the kiez have been collected, by means of interviews, group soundwalks and the use of the Hush City app.

It has been a great and rewarding experience: we had 15 interviews (some are still in progress), we went out for 5 soundwalks, and 85 datasets were collected by using the Hush City app. Such a great job, which, of course, was made possible only by your generous participation and the important support by Rabea and Dominik.

So, again, thank you very much!

And now? What’s next?

I’m currently analyzing data collected, with the aim of reporting the results and discussing them with you in the framework of the Stadtteilkonferenz on October 14 2017. I look forward to it!

In the meanwhile, if you don’t mind, I will send you, here and then, some sneak peaks of the results to keep you updated with the progress. However, if you are not interested in getting the updates, please reply to this email and write “No, thanks”. Your address will be immediately deleted by the mailing list.

On the other hand, if you like the idea, please don’t hesitate to circulate these emails around!

Thank you very much and ‘till soon!

Best regards,


A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking


(CC) “Perspectives on urban economics” (eds. Besecke et al.

I’m pleased to share “A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking”, my essay on soundwalking envisioned especially for the newcomers to this method, such as architects, city planners and policy makers, yet also for everyone interested in learning how it is a soundwalk, its main purposes and how it can be designed and performed.

This essay has been recently published in a fantastic book on urban economics: “Perspectives on urban economics” (eds Besecke et al.), which “offers a broad palette of perspectives on the multi-layered field of urban and regional economics. It reflects both current and timeless debates and equally addresses readers from the scientific community and the interested public. As such, it pays tribute to Prof. Dr. Dietrich Henckel, who held the Chair of Urban and Regional Economics at TU Berlin’s Institute of Urban and Regional Planning from 2004 to 2017, and contributed passionately to a wide range of discourses.” (from the abstract)

Please, find here my essay and here the book.

Looking forward to getting your feedback on it!

Happy reading 🙂

Soundwalking in the Reuterkiez!

On April 28, we celebrated the International Noise Awareness Day 2017, by means of a group soundwalk in the Reuterkiez in Berlin.

The International Noise Awareness Day (INAD) was founded by the Center for Hearing and Communication in 1996 to encourage people to do something about bothersome noise in the places where they work, live, and play. Since then, INAD has been celebrated every year on a Wednesday in April by individual member societies associated with the European Acoustics Association (EAA) in countries such as: Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Portugal, and Switzerland. Usually, series of events have been organized to address the society, especially young people who are among the most sensitive parts of our society.

This soundwalk in the Reuterkiez was organized by me and Michael Jäcker-Cüppers from the German Acoustical Society (DEGA), in collaboration with Rabea and Dominik from the Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez, Prof. Juliana Kohl and the students from the Rütlischule and it was supervised by Prof. Schulte-Fortkamp (TU Berlin) as a National Representative for INAD17.


Fig. 1. Image depicting the entrance to the Rütlischule’s Campus (CC Antonella Radicchi 2017)

This soundwalk was also part of the “Soundwalking in the kiez! ” Program, which has been envisioned and organized by Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez and me in the frame of the “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” project I have been conducting in the neighborhood, in order to promote and diffuse the soundscape culture in the Reuterkiez. In detail, this year the soundwalk’s goal was to focus on the importance of identifying and protecting “everyday quiet areas” by involving young students from the Rütlischule in this process.

You may now wonder what is a soundwalk!
In the words of Hildegard Westerkamp – the German-Canadian composer and musician who, since the Sixties, has contributed to the definition and spread of soundwalking – a soundwalk is “any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment”. Since the early examples of soundwalks, practitioners have experimented with a huge variety of methods within the arts and humanities, social sciences, ecology studies and engineering; accordingly a search for the most appropriate method could represent a challenge, especially for newcomers. Thus, in my essay “A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking”, I provided a theoretical framework where methods are differentiated and explained according to the purposes to be fulfilled: civic and political, educational and research.



Fig.2. A Pocket Guide to Soundwalking, proposing four methods of soundwalking, according to civic and political, educational and research purposes. (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

In the case of the INAD17, I designed the soundwalk applying the method “soundwalk with complex evaluation points” with research purposes (see Fig. 2), defining a route with several evaluation points along the way for the collection of qualitative and quantitative data (see Fig.3).


Fig. 3. Map illustrating the soundwalk’s path with the 5 evaluation points: (1) Campus Rütli (2) Reuterplatz (3) Neuköllner Wochenmarkt (4) Maybachufer (5) Pannierstrasse (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

Then we prepared a questionnaire to hand out to the participants, with questions drawn mainly to evaluate quietness and understand which sounds positively and negatively impact on it. Questions to investigate the impact of the soundscape on feelings and sense of place were also included (see Fig. 4).



Fig. 4. Questionnaire designed for the soundwalk (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

On April 28 2017, the activity took place from 1pm to 4pm. Michael gave a short introduction to the students in class, then we went out for the soundwalk with the group composed of nine thirteen years old students, their teachers Julian and Felix and Dominik form the Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez. I guided the soundwalk and we walked in a line at a slow pace, stick to the predefined route, in silence. We stopped at each evaluation point, where we focused on listening for one minute, in silence, and then we collected mixed data – students by replying to the questionnaires and Michael and me by making noise measurements and field recordings respectively. This procedure was repeated at each evaluation point. For noise measurements we used a SAUTER SU 130 sound level meter and for field recording my ZOOM H4n.


Fig. 5. Picture of the group walking along the Maybachufer canal (CC) Antonella Radicchi 2017

At the end of the soundwalk, we went back to class where a group discussion took place. Students were invited to give feedback on their favorite sounds and the place where they heard them (see Fig. 6).


Fig. 6. Picture of the dashboard reporting the students’ feedback on their favorite sounds and the place where they heard them (CC) Antonella Radicchi 2017.

From an initial evaluation of the data collected by means of questionnaires and noise measurements, we got interesting results.

While at Campus Rütli sound pressure levels were lower than those measured at Reuterplatz (Leq 56,4 dB(A) versus Leq 59,8 dB(A)), most students perceived the soundscape at Campus Rütli rather less quiet than the soundscape at Reuterplatz. Sound pressure levels measured along the canal at Maybachufer were about Leq 58,6 dB(A), however students perceived the soundscape in different ways: some of them rated it as „slightly quiet“, others rated it as „quiet“ and „very quiet“. On the other hand, everyone agreed that soundscape at Pannierstrasse was „not quiet“, in accordance with the sound pressure level measurements (Leq 70 dB(A)).
With regard to the relation between quietness and feelings, students associated „quiet“ and „very quiet“ places with positive feelings, such as calm, relax, pleasantness. Among the sounds, which were indicated to have a positive impact on quietness, birds chirping was the most rated even in noisy spots such as Pannierstrasse; natural sounds coming from water, wind and trees also resulted in having a positive impact on quietness in the Reuterkiez. The sound, which mostly disturbed the sense of quietness, was associated with cars and traffic lining also rather quiet places such as Reuterplatz and the canal. A more detailed discussion of data collected is under development and it will be published in the next months. So, keep on following this blog, if you are curious to learn more about it :).

To conclude, soundwalking in the Reuterkiez with the students from the Rütlischule was a very rewarding experience and it confirmed the power of soundwalking as a tool for understanding and evaluating the sonic quality of our cities. We therefore recommend the integration of this kind of experience-based and participatory method in soundscapes evaluation and planning processes at the municipality level. And we look forward to the next soundwalk in the Reuterkiez!

Hush City: the app to map and find quietness in cities!


The Hush City app’s logo (C) Antonella Radicchi 2017

Welcome to the Hush City app! 

With this free app, you are an active part of a citizen science research project to map and evaluate quietness in cities.

Our cities are becoming noisier by the hour. Only in Europe, over 125 million people are affected by noise pollution from traffic every year, and apparently, quietness is becoming a luxury available only to a few of us. By using this mobile app, you will contribute to making quietness available to all those appreciate it.

The Hush City app will help you to identify, access and evaluate “everyday quiet areas” in your neighborhoods. You can find places such as small, quiet spots where you can go to escape the city’s chaos, relax, read a book, play with your kids, and have a pleasant conversation. Chill out!

Join the community. It is simple.

  • Download the Hush City app
  • Go to one of your favorite quiet spots
  • Record the sound where you are in the quiet spot
  • Take a picture of the spot where you recorded the sound
  • Answer the questionnaire about this quiet spot
  • Share this information with your community.

Or, use the app to find a quiet spot near to you. Go to it and enjoy spending some time there.

Click here to download the Hush City app on iTunes store!
Click here to download the Hush City app on Google Play store!
Click here to download Hush City app’s User Guidelines!

Click here to download the Press Release &  here if you are curious to learn more about the Hush City’s theoretical framework and related projects under development.

Happy mapping 🙂

Invisible Places 2017

This year I attended the Invisible Places Conference. And, yes, it was great!

Invisible Places. Sound, Urbanism and Sense of Place is a triennial* conference, which was kicked off in 2014 in Viseu, Portugal. The 2017 edition took place in the amazing venue of Ponta Delgada on April 7-9, at the University of the Azores in S. Miguel Island. It was organized by the brilliant Rachel Castro and Miguel Carvalhais, with the aim of bringing “together scholars, artists and theoreticians on soundscape art and ecology and encourage them to present new perspectives that will further interdisciplinary research and practice” on sound, urbanism, sense of place, and acoustic ecology.

The program – very intense! – was composed of parallel talk sessions, workshops, concerts, sound installations and social events, in addition to three excellent key-notes by Juhani Pallasmaa, Hildegard Westerkamp and Sam Auinger. Due to the conference organization based on parallel sessions, there was no chance to attend all the presentations and events, so I had to choose and pick up what it would have been closer to my interests and background.

During the first day, I attended the paper session no. 1, where Jordan Lacey and Stephan Moore presented the Transurban project made in Melbourne, Antti Ikonen discussed acoustic ecology in the digital era and Nicola di Croce dealt with the issue of sonic identity, illustrating the results of his sound art residency at San Cipriano Picentino (IT). I also participated in the workshop run by Eric Leonardson and Amanda Gutierrez on how soundwalks engage urban communities in soundscape awareness.

The workshop started with an introduction given by Eric and Amanda, who presented their approach to soundwalking and several soundwalk projects they have been involved in. Then we go out for the soundwalk: first, we made some exercises for ear cleaning and ear calibration then we soundwalked in the surroundings of the conference’s venue, exploring the beautiful and quiet park with the pool, the tiny and noisy streets, the lively market and the sonic effects given by the local architecture.


Eric Leonardson giving indications on how to calibrate and clean our ears.

At the end of the soundwalk, we were encouraged to draw our sound mental maps of the soundwalk and to discuss our impressions with the group. This is my Sonic Postcard from Ponta Delgada along with the map designed by Reinhard Reitzenstein!


On the left, Reinhard Reitzenstein showing his sound mental map; on the right, my Sonic Postcard from Ponta Delgada.

It was a very rewarding and inspiring experience!

Day first ended with the key-note by Juhani Pallasmaa, titled Touching the world: through an historical excursus aimed to explain our vision-centred culture, he denounced that our “cities have lost their echo”, reclaiming for sensory architecture and urbanism in balance with our primary and most important sense: the existential one.

The day after, I attended the talk session no. 9, where scholars and artists like Thomas Kusitzky, Eric Somers and Barry Morse presented their research works: Kusitzky, in detail, gave a talk focusing on “cultivating urban sound as object of design”, attempting to build a new theory for “auditive architecture”.

In the afternoon, it was my turn!

I presented the Hush City app, a new mobile app, which I have developed to empower local communities to identify, map and evaluate quietness on their neighbourhoods. Trough the Hush City app, I also attempt to create a bridge between the traditional acoustic planning approach and the soundscape one, allowing for the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data.


Icon of the Hush City app.

So, if you want to join the community and help us in creating a worldwide map of quietness, click here to download the app!

Day two went on with the key-note given by Hildegard Westerkamp on “the practice of listening in unsettled times”. Hildegard Westerkamp is one of my heroes. And I was deeply touched by her talk, which was also very personal and moving. She encouraged us to practice a free and open listening, without barriers and prejudices, resisting to the impulse of providing advices and sharing experiences. She concluded her talk with a remarkable invitation to establishing connection with the acoustic engineers and hard scientists, in name of the inherent interdisciplinary nature of soundscape. After the key-note, a surprise concert by Peter Cusack took place in the beautiful frame of the Church of Mãe de Deus on the top of an hill, nearby the University, from where we could appreciate a fantastic panorama of the seaside. Delighted by the concert, we spent the evening together at the social dinner, where we kept on talking about soundscape research, sound art, architecture, future cities, smart mobility and so on. Time flew away!

The final day of the conference started with the key-note Quiet is the New Loud given by Sam Auinger, who presented the project made by O+A in the frame of the 2015 Brugge Triennale. I was intrigued by the Earmarks map, which was one of the outputs of the project: a map reporting the most interesting sonic places of the historical center of Brugge. In some way, it recalls to my mind the Berlin Sonic Places, a research project done by Peter Cusack in 2012 in Berlin. It’s always interesting observing how sound artists approach architecture and urbanism and being inspired by their alternative ideas and visions. A collective sound expedition to Arquipélago concluded the conference: pictures and videos from these incredible days are available here on the Facebook page of the conference.

What a rewarding experience!

I came back to Berlin full of energy and positive vibrations, and with many new ideas to test in the frame of my Beyond the Noise project.
Thanks to the Invisible Places’ crew and to people from S. Miguel who made my stay an unforgettable experience!


Views from S. Miguel. On the top, Sete Citades Lagoon; on the left, a sample of Figueira Australiana in the Botanical Garden of Ponta Delgada; on the right, the vulcanic coast of Ferreira.


* Raquel and Miguel say that they “still don’t know if this is a triennial conference, let’s see where the wind will take us!“.

Public presentation of the project in the Reuterkiez: March 9th, 2017 at 7pm!

We are delighted to kick off the project today in the Reuterkiez. Join us for the public presentation, which will take place at 7pm at :

Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez / Nachbarschaftsheim Neukölln e.V.
Campus Rütli
Rütlistraße 1-3
(Eingang Weserstraße, Manege 1. OG)
12045 Berlin

Press Release
Letter of information




Project Title

Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes.
A mixed methodology to identify, assess and plan small, quiet areas on the local scale, applying the soundscape approach, the citizen science paradigm and open source technology.


Today, cities have become increasingly noisier. In Europe, over 125 million people are affected by noise pollution from traffic every year, and apparently, quietness is becoming a luxury available only for the elites. There is a growing interest in protecting and planning quiet areas, which has been recognized as a valid tool to reduce noise pollution. However, developing a common methodology to define and plan quiet areas in cities is still challenging. The “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes project aims to fill this gap of knowledge by applying the soundscape approach, the citizen science paradigm and open source technology, with the ultimate goal of making quietness as a commons. Accordingly, a new mixed methodology to identify, assess and plan small, quiet areas on the local scale is tested through the development of a pilot study in the Reuterkiez, a Berlin neighborhood affected by environmental injustice and noise pollution. In this pilot study, a number of citizens are involved in crowdsourcing data related to “everyday quiet areas” by using a novel mobile technology: the HUSH CITY app. The contents generated in the project will be embedded in the: Open Source Berlin Atlas – a virtual, open, interactive and multi-layered map; and in the Design Tools Kit – a digital report on how to protect existing “everyday quiet areas” and planning new ones.

Project Credits

The project: “Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes” is currently under development by Dr. Antonella Radicchi at Technical University of Berlin.
Project Supervisors: Professor Dr. Dietrich Henckel (Technical University of Berlin), M.A. Jörg Kaptain (Berlin Senate, Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection).
Acoustic Consultants: Professor Michael Jäcker-Cüppers (Technical University of Berlin), Dipl. Ing. Manuel Frost (Berlin Senate, Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection), Dipl. Ing. Mattia Cobianchi (Bowers & Wilkins, UK).
Software Development: QUERTEX GmbH (GER) in cooperation with EdgeWorks Software, Ltd.
The pilot study is proudly conducted in collaboration with Rabea and Dominik from the Stadtteilbüro Reuterkiez!
The project has received the no-profit istitutional support of the Berlin Senate and it will be developed in accordance with the Berlin Senate, Department for Urban Planning and the Environment.
The research project has received funding from the the IPODI-Marie Curie Fellowship – 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).

A Refreshed Look for Firenze Sound Map!

Firenze Sound Map is the tender sound map of the city of Firenze in Italy.

It was born in 2009 as an output of my doctoral studies in Sensuous Urbanism and Soundscape Studies and it has become a collective sound map through the spontaneous and generous participation of the Florentine population, city users and tourists.

In the midst of 2009, when the idea to launch the project came to my mind, I had the honor to be supported with the enthusiasm and expertise of my friend Emranno Lacommare, who – as a software developer – helped me to turn my dream into reality.

8 years have passed by since then! And many extraordinary things happened in the meanwhile. I had the pleasure to meet and collaborate with fantastic people, in national and international venues, travelling around with my bag packed with florentine sounds, personal memories and secret dreams. And I was always warmly welcomed.

Now, I feel it is time to give something back to you.

And, the refreshed new look plus some new content for Firenze Sound Map represents my way to thank you all very much for the support, friendship, interest and passion you have given to me through all of these unforgettable years.

You know me.

I love to exchange, so get in touch! And let me know what you think about it!

INTER-NOISE 2016 Satellites in Berlin: Excursion to real life examples of Berlin’s Noise Action Plan


(c) INTER-NOISE 2016, logo.

The INTER-NOISE 2016 Satellites took place in Berlin on August 25-26 at the DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V in the frame of the “Towards a Quieter Future45th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering (INTER-NOISE 2016) organized in Hamburg on August 21-24 by the German Acoustical Society in cooperation with Hamburg University of Technology. The main congress theme “Towards a Quieter Future” reflects the urgency of reducing urban noise pollution which has increasingly become one of the factors that heavily affect health, quality of life and well being, along with air and water pollution as reported in (WHO, 2011) and (EEA, 2014).

In Berlin, three different symposia on Building Acoustics, European Noise Policy, and Soundscape and Psychoacoustics were organized in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin as well as the Acoustics, Noise Control, and Vibration Engineering Standards Committees of DIN and VDI.

On August 25, I attended the symposium on European Noise Policy chaired by Regina Heinecke-Schmitt and Bernd Lehming attracted by the program which promised to give a taste of the state of the art of noise action plans successfully implemented in Germany, with a special focus on the case of Berlin through:
– a key-note lecture on Examples of successful implementation of noise action plans in German cities by Antje Janssen, manager and shareholder of the LK Argus Kassel GmbH;
– an excursion to real life examples of Berlin’s noise action plan led by Maike Diechmann along with Joerg Kaptain of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment.

For those who are not familiar with EU noise policy, noise management action plans – usually known as noise action plans – were introduced in 2002 by the Environmental Noise Directive (END 2002/49/EC) as a measure to prevent and reduce environmental noise and preserve environmental noise quality. Member States are required to prepare and publish, every 5 years, noise management action plans along with noise maps for: agglomerations with more than 100,000 inhabitants, major roads (more than 3 million vehicles a year), major railways (more than 30.000 trains a year), major airports (more than 50.000 movements a year, including small aircrafts and helicopters).

The key-note lecture aimed to present the results of the Noise Balance 2015 project which reported on the status of noise action plans implemented in Germany up to Jan, 1 2015 even if noise pollution has not yet considered as a political priority today – unfortunately I would add. The presentation illustrated successful noise action plans according to the main measures adopted to reduce noise pollution such as: noise barriers, speed reduction, noise reduced asphalt. integrated approaches (urban and transport planning), and public participation.
The latter one was applied by the city of Bielefeld which set up a specific website where citizens’ feedback were collected through on-line consultation. Then a feasibility project of the public proposals was developed in 4 steps. In the first one, the proposals were selected according to the relevance to the topics of the END; in the second one, the legal feasibility and the potential impact of the recommended measures were verified; then the practical feasibility was checked; lastly, workshops were organized with the urban planning and transport departments to define the list of recommended measures to be developed through the noise action plans.
The presentation concluded pointing out possible criteria of a successful implementation of the noise action plans such as:
Less noise exposure achieved by the implementation of the noise action plans;
Higher allowance of the needs for noise reduction in urban and transport planning (strategic approach)
Raising the awareness od the need for noise reduction in the society( politics, citizenship)

With these best practices in mind, we left the venue of the symposium to venture in the excursion to real life examples of Berlin’s noise action plan led by Maike Diechmann along with Joerg Kaptain of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. A private bus brought us around the city to visit 5 pilot studies of the 2002-2007 Berlin Noise Reduction Plan chosen according to the kind of measures applied to reduce noise pollution. It’s interesting to note that this plan was named Noise Reduction Plan to avoid misunderstandings by the citizens who initially reacted against the definition of Noise Action Plan and clarifying that the main aim of the plan was to contrast and reduce noise pollution.
Then, the first comprehensive Noise Action Plan was released by the city of Berlin in 2008; it was updated in 2013 and then resolved in 2015.



On the left, markers on the map indicate the location of the pilot projects (Map courtesy of Berlin Senate). On the right, maps are given to participants to the excursion (cc) Antonella Radicchi.

At the beginning of the excursion, a 4-channel measurement system SQobold is HEAD acoustics was provided in case someone were interested in collecting noise samples in the hot spots of the excursion. Not to say, I showed up and offered to be in charge of the measurements! Actually I also had with me my H4 ZOOM. as I intended to take audio recordings during the excursion and I thought it would have been a great opportunity to make noise measurements and take audio recordings simultaneously.


This is me recording audios and measuring noise levels! (c) David Li.

The first example we visited was Brandenburgische Straße (between Hohenzollerndamm and Berliner Straße). The state of the public street was evaluated in course of the compilation of the noise action plan in 2008 and several measures adopted to reduce noise pollution caused by an average daily traffic of 22.000 units. Indeed, even if since 1999 the speed limit had been 30 km/h, in 2008 the street presented an average of 74 dB (A) at daytime and 68 dB (A) at nighttime; moreover the conditions for cyclists were inadequate and there was a negative impact on the houses lining the street.The street was redesigned and turned into one wide lane for vehicles plus a lane for cyclists. New road markings and crossing aids were also installed. In 2014 the average daily traffic load was about of 20.000 units. Due to the overall changes, a noise reduction of 1,5 dB (A) was calculated.

facts sheet

Brandenburgische Straße before and after the intervention.

Then we visited the pilot project “Maaßenstraße” which is a very interesting and pioneering example of noise action plan combining public participation and the right to public life, as Jan Gehl would argue. Indeed, the street and its public spaces were redeveloped according to the Swiss version of the “shared space” concept, which first were adopted in the Netherlands in small Dutch towns’ street design projects. The application of the “shared space” concept usually implies the turning of a busy traffic street into a public place where traffic signs, traffic lights, traffic islands, road markings and sidewalks are totally replaced by a common space equipped with urban street furniture favoring therefore social interaction and accessibility to people with a restricted mobility. However the development of this concept may imply also side effects such as missing guidance for visually impaired people, missing possibility to assess the traffic situation for seniors and children and the outsourcing of parking areas.
In order to deal with the potential side effects, in Switzerland a slightly different concept was developed which came out being more suitable for big cities like Berlin: a busy traffic street is redesigned and turned into a public space where access to motor vehicles is guaranteed with a restricted speed limit of 20 km/h. Parking lots are also provided and sidewalks maintained for safety reasons especially for seniors and children.
In Berlin, the redevelopment of Maaßenstraße implied also public participation via working groups, flyers, post cards and e-participation. According to the suggestions made by citizens, the following measures were adopted in the redevelopment of the street: the protection of the genius loci, a traffic reduction, the creation of new non-commercial public paces equipped with benches, a redesign of the crossings for people with a restricted mobility and for those who are visually impaired were needed, the provision of a new cycling lane.
Here you can find more info and have a look at the pictures before and after the redevelopment of the street.


Masterplan of Maaßenstraße (C) Berlin Senate.

The third example of noise action plan we visited was at Katzbachstraße where the “Tempo 30” criterion was applied to reduce noise pollution. Berlin tested the suitability of speed limit of 30 km/h for the main traffic network composed of 3.167 km: as of 2015, 17% of the main traffic network were speed restricted to 30 km/h and 5% of it has a 30 km/h speed limit at night.
The effects of the reduction from 50 to 30 km/h were analyzed in 2013 and the outcomes were successful: the application of the “Tempo 30” measure caused a speed reduction up to 16 km/h and up to 18 km/h with police controls.
In the case of Katzbachstraße, since 1990 speed limit had been already reduced to 30 km/h at night because of complaints made by citizens. However, noise pollution was not significantly reduced and further complaints by local residents followed up until 2009 when speed limit to 30 km/h was imposed full-time by the traffic management of Berlin (VLB) not only to reduce noise pollution but also to abate high costs resulting from the numerous traffic accidents between Monumentenstraße and Dudenstraße.


© Michael Hüter | Source: LK Argus

The fourth stop of the excursion was at Großbeerenstraße (in between Yorckstrasse and Hagelbergerstrasse). Here the noise action plan was based on asphalt substitution: almost 200m of rubber modified DSH-V asphalt was laid out in Großbeerenstraße.
The DSH-V is a thin asphalt layer, which is laid out when it is still hot. It has a high density and a binder with a rubber modification increases the flexibility and the durability. Between 45 and 65 km/h a noise reduction of 3 dB (A) is guaranteed. In order to maximize its performance, specific measures are to be followed for the installation: the base layer has to be stable and clean and the mixture of the binder should have the right mixing ratio. Weather conditions are also relevant in the process of installation. Großbeerenstraße presents some cracks in the surface because the ground temperature was too low due to the bad weather conditions we had when the asphalt was installed.


The DSH-V asphalt in Großbeerenstraße (cc) Antonella Radicchi.

We ended the excursion visiting the Riehmers Hofgarten in Kreuzberg which represents an exception to the urban expansion general plan developed in 1858 in Berlin by James Hobrecht characterized by a wide street grid with huge compact blocks (400x200m) with private courtyards.
Indeed, Riehmers Hofgarten was planned by Master Mason Riehmer according to the t-shaped design concept, which implied the construction of a private street and a huge and beautiful garden courtyard. The facade constructions have expensive neo-baroque and renaissance elements: particularly the facades lining Großbeerenstraße and the two atlases, which carry the balcony above the courtyard entrance in Yorckstraße. The Hofgarten was renovated in the 70s and 80s and nowadays is a popular place to live with offices, medical practices, restaurants and cinemas.
The Riehmers Hofgarten is a very good example of noise reduction plan where urban design principles are applied to guarantee quietness and recovering from the noise streets surrounding the Hofgarten.


A view of the beautiful garden courtyard in the Riehmers Hofgarten (cc) Antonella Radicchi.