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Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

PROCEEDINGS of the 22nd International Congress on Acoustics

Soundscape, Psychoacoustics and Urban Environment:


Paper ICA2016-119

Name:LingtongDeng

E-mail:larry-ll@hotmail.com

A comparative study on the soundscape of public


spaces in coastal and inland cities in northern China

L Deng(1), J Kang(1,2), H Jin(1), W Zhao(1), H Wu(1), D Wu(5),K Jambrošić(3), M Horvat(3), K


Filipan(3,4) ,H Domitrović(3)

(1) School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China

(2) School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom

(3) Department of Electroacoustics, University of Zagreb, Unska 3, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia

(4) Ghent University, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

(5) School of Architecture, Northeastern University,Shenyang 110819,China

Abstract

In order to determine the differences of the acoustic environment awareness of the general public
in the coastal public space and the inland public space of China, the coastal city Huludao and
inland city Harbin were selected as the research locations. In each city, objective measurement
and subjective questionnaire survey were conducted in three typical public spaces. The results
show that the general public of the two cities have similar acoustic sensitivity and demand for
acoustic environment; the primary difference in acoustic sources is sound of water, wind and
traffic; and the regression analysis indicates that there is no significant correlation between the
overall satisfaction on acoustic environment and A-weighted sound level, and the overall
satisfaction of the coastal public space is generally higher than that of the inland space.

Keywords: Soundscape, acoustic environment; sound source; coastal city; inland city; public
space
22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

A comparative study on the soundscape of public


spaces in coastal and inland cities in northern China

1 Introduction
With the development of urbanization, urban public space becomes an important space for social
life of the general public. A good public space encourages rewarding social communication.
Different social groups harmoniously share the public space in a casual and relaxed way[1]. The
urban public space features a large number of visitors. For inland urban public space, the
functions are singular, including the leisure space as the primary function and the sales space as
the secondary function. In contrast, the coastal urban public space mainly serves as the
recreational space, supported with catering, sales, entertainment, accommodation and other
functions. The acoustic environment is noisy in both public spaces.
Studies show that acoustic environment plays a critical role in affecting the overall environmental
awareness of the public space[2]. People do not perceive the environment by vision only. Auditory
sense also plays a decisive role[3]. The general public evaluate the satisfaction of the surrounding
environment by aesthetics and emotional reaction[4]. Different from the traditional acoustic space,
the urban public space has a more complicated acoustic environment. And the acoustic
environment space has no definite boundary. Generally, the space itself is emphasized. Sound
injects vitality into the space and makes people feel the environment from the perspective of time
and space[5]. Foreign researches on non-acoustic space mainly focus on the acoustic landscape
and evaluation of the urban environment and open public space, while there are few related
researches in China. Besides, it will not always improve the acoustic comfort by lowering the
sound pressure level in the open urban public space[6-7]. Actually, people are affected by many
factors in evaluating the acoustic environment of the open urban public space. It is a very complex
system. With the constant improvement of the urban environment, the acoustic environment
quality of the public space will directly affect the life quality and comfort of the general public. It is
particularly important to conduct a comparative study of the acoustic environment for the public
gathering space.
Based on the objective measurement and subjective questionnaire survey of the acoustic
environment in the public spaces of the coastal region and inland region, this paper analyzes the
current situation of acoustic environment in the two regions so as to study the differences of the
overall acoustic environment and the evaluation of the general public on the acoustic environment
in the inland region and coastal region, with emphasis on comparing the acoustic sources and
the factors affecting the evaluation.

2 Methodology
2.1 Study of Case

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

This study selected the inland city Harbin and coastal city Huludao of China. Three survey
locations at the core area were selected for each city. They are the urban landmark open public
space with a large number of visitors and a complex acoustic environment.

a) Inland City

Harbin was chosen for the survey as the inland city. Its geographical location and climatic
environment in the cold region give the urban public space typical climatic characteristics. After
field survey of various urban public spaces in Harbin, the survey locations were finally determined
as Stalin Park, Gexin Street Plaza and Zhaolin Park, three representative urban public spaces.
Stalin Park is located by the Songhua River. It is one of the important tourist destinations in Harbin,
with a large number of visitors. The Park is 1,750m long in total, a belt-shaped open park along
the embankment of Songhua River, which covers 105,000 square meters. Gexin Street Plaza is
situated at the intersection of Gexin Street and Gogol Street, the core area of the city. It is also
the front plaza for Harbin Cathedral that attracts a large amount of tourists as a historic urban
landmark. Meanwhile, it is a gathering place for the residents living nearby. Zhaolin Park sits in
the bustling downtown surrounded by high rises. It is in an irregular shape; however, its operation
mode is different from the other two parks. It is a closed park that occupies 84,000 square meters.
The summer views in the Park and the ice lantern in the winter attract tourists from all around the
world.

b) Coastal City

For the coastal city, Huludao was chosen for the survey. And the public spaces chosen in Huludao
were Longwan Coast, Xingcheng Coast and Dongdaihe Coast. Located within the Bohai Gulf,
Huludao is under the influence of the coastal climate. As a result, the peak tourist seasons fall in
July to October every year. The beach of Longwan Coast is approximately 3,000 meters, while
Xingcheng Coast and Dongdaihe Coast are some 1,500 meters long and 80-100 meters wide, all
of which are in the belt shape. The peak time for visitors in the coastal region spans from July to
September every year, and the daily peak time falls in the weekends and dusk. As it is easier to
collect various acoustic sources accurately in the peak time, the survey was carried out in the
morning and dust of weekends.

2.2 Questionnaire Design


This study adopts the combined method of field questionnaire survey and measurement. The
survey objects are the people inside the public space. In order to obtain relatively complete types
of acoustic sources, the survey was carried out when the visitors were in great number every day.
The questionnaire comprises three parts, namely, the greetings, background information and
survey content. Questions are asked step by step. The basic information of the respondents
includes gender, age and occupation, etc. As to the respondents' behavior, the questionnaire
covers the times of visits, purpose and subjective preference, etc. In terms of the basic situation
of the acoustic environment, it involves the degree of sound heard by the respondents, feeling of
the acoustic environment, comfort level of the acoustic environment and overall satisfaction, etc.

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

To obtain complete survey information and make it easier for respondents to answer the
questionnaire, the background information part offers multiple choices, and the acoustic
environment evaluation is designed as a rating scale with five interval scales, i.e., "very satisfied",
"satisfied", "ordinary", "dissatisfied" and "very dissatisfied". The questionnaire aims to investigate
the types of acoustic sources in the public space and the degree of satisfaction.

2.3 Measurement
While answering the questionnaire by the respondents, LAeq measurement was carried out so
as to ensure the mental feelings of the subjective survey were simultaneous with the objective
measurement. During the measurement, the sound level meter and the four-channel 3D
microphone were placed 1.2-1.5m high, and the human ear simulated sound recorder was carried
by an investigator who sat by the devices silently. The devices were close to the height of the
sitting position and the standing position of the respondents during the experiment. The test lasted
15 or 20 minutes. At the three survey locations in the inland region (Figure 1、Figure 2), 240
copies of the questionnaire were issued, and 226 effective copies recovered. And 300 copies
were issued, and 294 copies recovered at the three survey locations of the coastal space.

Source: (Author, 2016)

Figure 1: Research Area

Source: (Author, 2014)

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

Figure 2:Research of Inland and Coastal Region

3 Comparative Analysis of Acoustic Environment


3.1 Sound Sources
a) Inland Region

The statistical results of audibility of acoustic sources in Stalin Park, Gexin Street Plaza and
Zhaolin Park are obtained through analysis. The three acoustic sources with high audibility are
respectively the sound of talking, the sound of children playing and the sound of music, while the
four acoustic sources with low audibility are the sound of water flowing, the sound of animals, the
sound of mobile phone ringtone and mechanical sound (Figure 3). As Stalin Park is a belt-shaped
waterfront park, the audibility of the sound of water is higher than that of the other two public
spaces. Because Gexin Street Plaza is located at the core area of the city, where is surrounded
by city roads without a lot of urban landscape, the sound of traffic and horns are much higher than
that of Stalin Park away from the street and the closed Zhaolin Park. Although there is slight
difference in the audibility of acoustic sources, the general trend is the similar.

b) Coastal Region

The statistical results of audibility of acoustic sources in Longwan Coast, Xingcheng Coast and
Dongdaihe Coast are obtained through analysis.The four acoustic sources with high audibility are
respectively the sound of water flowing, the sound of wind, the sound of talking and the sound of
children playing, while the five acoustic sources with low audibility are the sound of animals, the
sound of traffic, the sound of horns, the sound of mobile phone ringtone and mechanical sound
(Figure 4). Thanks to its location, the coastal urban public space makes the sound of water flowing
become the most audible sound . Studies have been carried out regarding the influence of the
sound of water as the background soundscape on the general public in the urban open public
space. The field survey on the urban plazas shows that people prefer the natural sound, in
particular, 75% of the respondents prefer the sound of water [8-9]. Under the influence of the
oceanic climate, the sound of sea wind is also significant. The survey was conducted in the
summer. Considering that the coastal region receives the largest number of people in summer
throughout the year, as the local people and tourists all come to the coastal public space during
such period, the sound of talking and children playing are thus highly audible.

The coastal public spaces generally extend in the shape of belt along the sea, comprising the sea,
beach, hard pavement plaza, buildings and roads, thus bordering on the city. Longwan Coast and
Dongdaihe Coast are open coasts that blend with the city. There is no definite entrance or exit.
In contrary, Xingcheng Coast is a semi-closed coast with main entrances and exits. Owing to the
spatial form relationships between the coastal region and the city, the sound of traffic and horns
is seldom heard in the three regions.

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

Source: (Author, 2016)

Figure 3: Audibility of Sound Sources in Inland Figure 4: Audibility of Sound Sources in

Region Coastal Region

3.2 Audibility of Sound Sources


After analysis, the general ranking of audibility of acoustic sources in the coastal region and inland
region is made. In the coastal region, the top four audible sources are the sound of water, the
sound of talking, the sound of children playing and the sound of wind, while in the inland region,
the top four audible sources are the sound the talking, the sound of music, the sound of children
playing and the sound of traffic.

In the coastal region, the sound of water is highly audible (20%: it can be heard; 13.6%: it can be
heard frequently; 52%: it can be always heard). On the contrary, the sound of water is seldom
heard in the inland region (18.3% in total from the zone of being able to hear it to the zone of
always hearing it). Therefore, the sound of water (sea) is the significant difference in acoustic
sources between the coastal public space and inland public space.

In the coastal region, 34% of the respondents can hear the sound of wind, 15.6% can hear it
frequently, and 24.1% can always hear it. In contrast, 66% of the respondents seldom hear the
sound of wind in the inland region, and 23.4% can hear it. As the coastal urban space belongs to
the open-type spatial form, the temperature at the land is high while the temperature on the sea
is low in the day. Thus, the air pressure above the land is low, while the pressure over the sea is
high. So, the wind blows from the sea to the land. It blows conversely in the night. In comparison,
the inland public space is more often surrounded by buildings, like Gexin Street Plaza and Zhaolin
Park. In this regard, the sound of wind is the main difference in acoustic sources between the
coastal region and inland region.

In the two regions, the contour line of the sound of talking both rises, with the audibility mostly
concentrated in the zone of being able to hear it or above. The sound of walking and shouts of
vendors in both regions show the same downtrend in the contour line, mainly concentrated in the
zone from seldom hearing them to being able to hear them. As the urban public space is a place
for social activities and gathering, the sound of talking is both highly audible in the coastal and
inland regions.

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

In terms of the sound of children playing, the trend between the zone from seldom hearing it to
being able to hear it is identical in the coastal region and inland region. In the coastal region, the
sound of children playing is more audible than the inland region (the former: 20.7% of hearing it
frequently and 21.4% of always hearing it; the latter: 30.8% of hearing it frequently and 12.7% of
always hearing it). In the coastal region, 20.7% of the respondents always hear the sound of
broadcast, which is higher than the inland region (12.9%). The audibility of the sound of music in
the inland region is generally higher than the coastal region, the contour line of which goes up
from the zone of occasionally hearing it (23.8%: hearing it frequently; 31.4%: always hearing it,
both of which are slightly higher than the coastal region, respectively 11.2% and 23.4%). In the
two regions, the audibility of the sound of animals is both low (70% seldom hear it in the coastal
region and 68.6% in the inland region).

3.3 LAeq
For the inland region, the survey duration was determined at 8:30-15:00 in the day and 17:00-
21:00 in the night. The LAeq trend of Gexin Street Plaza and Stalin Park is similar, as the general
public gather in the public space more in the night than in the day, thus the sound pressure level
goes up (Gexin Street Plaza: 41-53.8dBA; Stalin Park: 38-41.1dBA). Because Zhaolin Park
closes at 21:00, fewer people visit the park in the night than the day. Thus, the sound pressure
level goes down gradually, from 41 to 32.7dBA.

For the three coastal public spaces, the survey duration was determined at 8:30-15:00 in the day
and 17:00-21:00 in the night. The LAeq trend is similar for Longwan Coast, Xingcheng Coast and
Dongdaihe Coast, all rising up. Owing to the influence of temperature, the number of people who
come to the coastal region for relaxation in the night is higher. In the night, there are more
restaurants, KTV music and promotions. The sound pressure level in Longwan Coast changes
from 31.1 to 41.6dBA; in Xingcheng Coast, from 30.2 to 41.8dBA; and in Dongdaihe Coast, from
27.4 to 43.7dBA.

In the coastal region, LAeq in the day is lower than that in the night when the sound of music and
promotion increases. The measured results of the inland urban public space are similar to that of
the coastal spaces. The LAeq of Zhaolin Park in the day is higher than that in the night because
it is closed in the night. Comparing the coastal region and inland urban space, the LAeq of the
coastal region is slightly smaller than that of the inland cities (Figure 5).

60 41.6 41.8 43.7 53.8


31.1 30.2
41 41
32.7 38 41.1
40 27.4
20
0
Longwan Coast Xingcheng Coast Dongdaihe Gexin Plaza Zaolin Park Stalin Park
Coast

8:30-15:00 17:00-21:00

Source: (Author, 2016)

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

Figure 5: Comparison of Laeq

3.4 Sound Environment Evaluations


The subjective evaluations of the acoustic environment are obtained through analysis for
Longwan Coast, Dongdaihe Coast, Xingcheng Coast, Gexin Street Plaza, Stalin Park and Zhaolin
Park (Figure 6). Generally speaking, 45.1% of the respondents evaluate the acoustic environment
in the inland region as "ordinary", and then, 19.8% as "satisfied", 15.6% as "dissatisfied" and 11.7%
as "very dissatisfied", and the rare 7.3% as "very satisfied". In contrast, the evaluation curve of
the coastal region shows different results, mainly 33.3% as "ordinary" and 30.2% as "satisfied",
and next to that, 14.6% as "very satisfied" and 13.3% as "very dissatisfied". The overall evaluation
in the coastal region is higher than that on the inland region(Figure 7).

Source: (Author, 2016)

Figure 6: Comparative of Sound Environment Figure 7: Comparative of Sound Sources in


Inland and Coastal Region

3.5 Satisfaction and Comfort Level


According to the relationships between LAeq and satisfaction evaluation/acoustic comfort
evaluation(Figure 8), it is found that the contour line of the acoustic comfort evaluation and
satisfaction evaluation in the coastal region and inland region goes in a similar trend, but the trend
of the continuous LAeq contour line shows chaotic relationships with the contour of satisfaction
degree and acoustic comfort degree. The satisfaction degree of acoustic environment in the
coastal region: Longwan Coast: 6.48 in the day and 6.75 in the night; Xingcheng Coast: 6.69 in
the day and 5.92 in the night; Dongdaihe Coast: 6.35 in the day and 5.4 in the night. The
satisfaction degree of acoustic environment in the inland region: Zhaolin Park: 6.08 in the day and
6.02 in the night; Stalin Park: 6.43 in the day and 5.97 in the night; Gexin Street Plaza: 5.21 in the
day and 5 in the night. The overall satisfaction degree in the coastal region is 6.38, while the
overall satisfaction degree in the inland region is 5.85. Thus, the general public satisfaction degree
in the coastal region is higher than that in the inland region.

With the help of statistical analysis software SPSS, regression analysis regarding LAeq and
satisfaction degree, satisfaction degree and acoustic comfort degree in the coastal and inland
region is conducted. The results indicate that the Sig. value between satisfaction degree and

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

acoustic comfort degree in the coastal and inland region is 0.000, which means extremely
significant correlation.

However, the regression between A sound level and satisfaction degree shows that they have
significant correlation only in two periods. Specifically, the Sig. value between LAeq and the
general public satisfaction degree in the day in Gexin Street Plaza is 0.007 (extremely significant
correlation); the Sig. value between LAeq and the general public satisfaction degree in the night
in Xingcheng Coast is 0.046 (significant correlation). In the other ten periods, the Sig. values in
the regression analysis are all larger than 0.05 (not significant correlation). The results manifest
that the changes of LAeq in the coastal and inland region do not directly affect the evaluation of
the general public on the satisfaction degree of the acoustic environment and the acoustic comfort
degree.

Source: (Author, 2016)

Figure 8: Relationship between Laeq and Satisfaction and Comfort

4 Conclusions
Through field survey and subjective evaluation of six typical public spaces in the inland region
and coastal region, research conclusions are made as follows after analyzing and comparing the
evaluations of the respondents on the acoustic environment:

(1) In the acoustic environment of the coastal region, the primary audible acoustic sources are
the sound of water, the sound of talking, the sound of children playing and the sound of wind,
while in the inland region, they are the sound of talking, the sound of music, the sound of children
playing and the sound of traffic. The sound of water is the most audible sound in the coastal
region, while it is the least audible in the inland region. Therefore, the sound of water is the
significant difference in acoustic sources between the coastal public space and the inland public
space.

(2) Comparing the LAeq in the coastal region and inland region, it is all higher in the night than in
the day, except Zhaolin Park, in which case the LAeq is higher in the day than in the night because
it is closed in the night. The LAeq in the coastal region is slightly lower than that of the inland
region.

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22nd International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2016
Buenos Aires – 5 to 9 September, 2016

Acoustics for the 21st Century…

(3) The satisfaction evaluation of the acoustic environment and the overall evaluation of the
acoustic environment in the coastal region are higher than that in the inland region. The former is
mainly evaluated as "satisfied" and "ordinary", while the latter is mostly evaluated as "ordinary".
This proves that the evaluation of the acoustic environment is influenced by the visual
environment.

(4) The satisfaction evaluation and comfort evaluation of the acoustic environment in the inland
and coastal region are not significantly relevant with the sound pressure level LAeq (Sig. value
larger than 0.05). This indicates that the changes of LAeq do not directly affect the evaluation of
the general public.

Acknowledgments
Thanks to the members of the research team and all the respondents who accepted the survey.

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