Antonella Radicchi

Antonella Radicchi

Architect and Urbanist, PhD

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.

A tentative state of the art of applications for crowdsourced noise- & sound maps

 (C) RADICCHI_2016_Apps_SOA_infographic-web

(C) Antonella Radicchi 2016

As anticipated in the previous post, in the frame of the Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes research project I will be testing an experimental methodology based on the “open source soundscape” approach for the analyses, assessment and planning of urban quiet areas at the local scale in Berlin. A citizens-driven pilot study will be developed in the Reuterkiez and participants involved in the fieldwork activities will be asked to collect qualitative & quantitative data related to the sonic quality of the area under investigation using a mobile tool. Data collected will be then analysed and turned into web-based maps, giving information on existing quiet areas and potential new ones.

So, in order to define the ideal mobile tool to adopt for crowdsourcing data, I first reviewed the literature and I also asked for feedback via social network. The latter method was very rewarding and I would like to thank very much the scholars and the members of the Acoustic Ecology & Soundscape UK mailing list for the insightful and useful feedback they gave me. Especially (in alphabetical order): Ernesto Accolti, Alessandro Altavilla, Pierre Aumond, Raquel Castro, Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi, Adam Craig, Peter Cusack, Milena Droumeva, Felicity Ford, Joaquín Gutiérrez Hadid, Per Hedfors, Christina Higgins, Eiman Kanjo, Josh Kopecek, Barry Truax, Jacqueline Waldock.

Then I selected the applications & the related research projects according to the following criteria:
– Participatory applications;
– Crowsourced collection of qualitative and quantitative data related to the sonic environment;
– Crowdsourced representation of the data via web-based maps.

Finally, I organized and represented them via the infographic shown in the image above according to the following criteria:
– Release date: the timeline goes from the left to the right and it shows at a glance when the applications were released;
– Kind of technology applied: the timeline turns into a reference point for organizing the applications according to the kind of technology applied. Above the timeline are placed applications which run on audio-recording softwares, and below the timeline are placed applications which run on noise measuring softwares;
– Availability on the market: The applications’ logos were slightly modified to communicate at a glance the availability of the applications on the market. We have: applications that are not yet or not more available on the market and off-the-shelf applications.

An exception to these criteria is represented by the Favourite Sounds project: it is not a mobile application, however it is the very first participative sound map. The Favourite Sounds project started verbally, on paper and as a collection of sound recordings in 1998 by the sound artist and researcher Peter Cusack (UK) with “the aim to discover, and celebrate, what people value about the soundscapes of the cities, towns and neighborhoods where they live and work”. The online map appeared in 2009 in its prototype version and it was created during the Positive Soundscapes Project (2006-2009). The current version first appeared in 2010.

Below, you will find the applications listed in alphabetical order. Links to the websites as well as credits are provided.

  1. AudioSpook was designed by the Spanish Salva Domingo. Access only by invitation as of August 2016.
  2. CART-ASUR was developed in France by the Software Lab of the Languages de l’Université de Bruxelles (VUB) in collaboration with the MRTE Lab of the University of Cergy Pontoise in the frame of the research project CartASUR (2012-2016) funded by the ADEME – Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie.
  3. CITI-SENSE was conceived in the frame of the EU funded CITI-SENSE research project (2012-2014) developed by a consortium of 29 partner Institutions led by Tecnalia.
  4. Ear-Phone was developed in 2013 by Prof. Rajib Rana at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s National Science Agency.
  5. Geluidenjager was developed in the Netherlands by Johan Oomen & Maarten Brinkerink (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) and Thijs van Exel (Kennisland).
  6. I-SAY was developed by Dr. Charlie Mydlarz in the frame of the Sounds Around You project started in 2007 at the Audio and Acoustic Engineering Research Centre at the University of Salford (UK).
  7. NoiseSpy was conceived by Dr Eiman Kanjo at the Computer Laboratory University of Cambridge (UK).
  8. Noise Watch was developed by the European Environmental Agency. As of August 2016, it is available only as web-mapping application.
  9. Noise Tube was initially developed at the Sonic Computer Science Lab in Paris. It is currently maintained by the Software Languages Lab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
  10. NoTours was developed by collective Escoibar.
  11. Radio Aporee was developed by the sound artist and researcher Udo Noll.
  12. Recho was developed by the Danish designer Åsmund Sollihøgda and the Danish transmedia-producer Mads Damsbo.
  13. Record the Earth was developed by the US Center for Global Soundscape of Purdue University in the frame of the citizen science project Record the Earth.
  14. SoundCity was developed in the frame of the Sense2Health project by the CityLab@Inria – the French National Institute for computer science .
  15. Soundscape Characterization Tool is based on a research approach developed  by Per Hedfors, Division of Landscape architecture, Dept. Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Uppsala.
  16. Soundsslike is an application not yet available on the market. As of August 2016, it is available only as a web-mapping application: the Soundsslike map – created by by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi in the frame of her doctoral project: The Soundscape of Istanbul. The sound map is developed by Hüseyin Kuşcu.
  17. Stadklang2015 is an application not yet available on the market. As of August 2016 it is available only as a web-mapping application. It was developed in the frame of the 2015 Year of Science in Germany by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Science in Dialogue (WiD).
  18. Stereopublic was developed by the sound artist Jason Sweeney.
  19. The Quiet Walk is an application not more available on the market. It was developed by the Italian sound artist and researcher Alessandro Altavilla and by the UK artist and researcher Tom Schofield.
  20. The Noise App was developed by the UK private company Noise Nouisance.
  21. Think About Sound was developed by a team led by Adam Craig of the Glasgow Caledonian University in the frame of his doctoral research project: Glasgow 3D soundmap.
  22. UrbanRemix is an application not more available on the market. It was developed by collective UrbanRemix.
  23. WideNoise was developed by the Italian private company CPS in the frame of the EU funded EVERYAWARE project.

This tentative list along with the infographic constitutes the basis to publish a more comprehensive and detailed paper. If you have feedback, comments or questions please don not hesitate to contact me.
I will be happy to discuss it further with you!

PS. I presented an updated list and infographic at Invisible Places 2017: these data will be published on the Proceedings of the conference and shared also here. Stay tuned!

Here we are: my first months at TU Berlin & the setting up of the pilot study


Today, I am happy to launch my first academic blog in the frame of the appointment I started a TU Berlin in April as an IPODI-Marie Curie Fellow.

The principal aim consists in keeping record of my post doc research progress and related side activities, however I hope it will not be just adds-on to academic research, but a simple reflection of the passion underpinning it, as Tim Hitchcock recently argued in a post published on  LSE blog where he discusses the importance of social media in academia. Indeed, as Erik Qualman states in his best-seller book Socialnomics: “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media. The choice is how well we do it.”
And, of course, I hope to do it at my best!

Now, let’s start from the beginning of the story. I have been awarded the IPODI-Marie Curie Fellowship to develop my post doc research project Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscape at the Technische Universität Berlin Institute of City and Regional Planning under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Dietrich Henckel and Dr. Joerg Kaptain of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment.

The aim of the International Post-Doc Initiative (IPODI) of the Technische Universität Berlin is to increase the number of women in leadership positions awarding 21+5 two-year fellowships to international female researchers in four internationally open calls between 2013 and 2018. The IPODI program has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (Marie Curie Co-funding of Regional, National, and International Programmes).
It is an extremely relevant initiative and a great opportunity to contribute to fill the gender gap in academia. Here you can have a look at the IPODI fellows’ profiles and their research projects spanning from Neuroscience to Urban Planning. Many interesting side activities are also organized by the IPODI Office led by Dr. Elke Gehweiler to provide additional training in career development and research management, specifically tailored to experienced female postdoctoral researchers.

My research work consists in the development of the the Beyond the Noise: Open Source Soundscapes project that focuses on the issue of urban quiet areas. I have envisioned a qualitative and experimental methodology based on the “open source soundscape” approach that will be tested through a citizens-driven pilot study using web-based open source tools in a neighbourhood affected by environmental injustice in Berlin.
The application of the methodology will result in the protection of existing quiet areas and the planning of new ones at the local scale. There would also be a positive impact on the public’s awareness of the sonic environment, and on the spread of the open-data/open-source movement.

In the first months of the research, several activities have been addressed to set up the pilot study:
1) the choice of the most appropriate area for the pilot;
2) the analysis of the state of the art of mobile applications for crowdsourced noise-& soundmaps
3) the choice of the best method for crowdsourcing data with the citizens.

In order to select the most appropriate area for the development of the pilot study, the following criteria were selected in accordance with the Berlin Senate: Environmental Justice Index, Position, Size, Morphology, Land use, Social Diversity, Distance to quiet & recreational areas of the Berlin Plan, Accessibility to green areas, Soundscape.
The fulfillment of the criteria was verified combining two methods: the onsite method and online one. The online method implied the collection, analysis and comparison using the software QGis of the data made available by the Berlin Senate and by the TU GIS Lab.
The onsite method implied the direct exploration of the areas applying the intimate-sensing approach (Porteous, 1986). Soundwalks have been performed and the following data have been collected: audio recordings, pictures, dB levels, notes. Informal interviews with the locals were also be conducted.
From the comparative analyses of the data collected, the most appropriate area results to be the Reuterkiez and its sourroundigs in Neukölln.

Along with these research tasks, in the past months I was busy with other side activities.

In May I had the pleasure to be invited by Professor Henckel to give a talk at TU Berlin depicting my research work on soundscape studies, digital media & urban planning. This is the title of the talk: The City, the Noise and the Quietnessthat got very positive feedback from the students and many insightful questions, which I always like very much.

Then, Professor Henckel and me flew to Firenze where we had been invited to give a tandem speech at the Major Cities of Europe Conference 2016 City Renaissance in the Digital Age.
The MCE 2016 conference aimed to “be a journey of discovery to determine what City Renaissance means in the Digital Age”. The goal was achieved hosting distinguished speakers from European cities alongside worldwide experts from ICT providers and academia, who discussed pioneering practices as well current pilots and implementations. It was a very stimulating venue where we met interesting people from all around the Europe. I had the opportunity to test the CITY-SENSE tool developed by Tecnalia. The organization was outstanding as well as the quality of the social events organized, especially the social dinner in Palazzo Vecchio.
Here you can have a look at the abstract and the presentation of our tandem speech titled: Sense-Scapes: Quietness and Natural Darkness for the Sustainable City.

Finally, I also attended several conferences as listeners. Among those, I would like to mention the INTERNOISE 2016 Satellites that took place in Berlin at the DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. on August 25-26. I very much enjoyed the events and a special post will be dedicated to it and launched soon!

And now? What’s next?

To give you a taste of my near future, I would like to name only but a few of the activities I will be involved in!

ON ARTIFICIAL LIGHT AT NIGHT (ALAN 2016) will take place in Cluj-Napoca on September, 26-28. I will be attending the conference and, along with Professor Henckel and the ISR researcher Josiane Meier, we will give a speech titled “Urban Planning Challenges: Toward integrated approaches to sustainable lightscape and soundscape planning. We are working very hard on the presentation and we all are looking forward to geeting feedback from the audience!

+ TU Berlin Studienprojekt Master WS 2016/17: Lichtverschmutzung und Lärm – Aufgaben wachsender Bedeutung und Strategien ihrer Bewältigung. Vergleich Berlin –Florenz. In the fall semester I will collaborate with Prof. Henckel in this Master Class where students will be asked to analyse, compare and evaluate ligh and noise planning approaches adopted by the City of Berlin and Firenze. The Master Class will also imply a field trip to Firenze where field analyses will be conducted such as: interviews with the stakeholders and citizens, light&soundwalks.

Stay tuned!