From environmental noise abatement to soundscape creation through strategic noise mapping in medium urban agglomerations in South Europe

Sci Total Environ. 2014 Jun 1:482-483:420-31. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.07.098. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


In the framework of the European Directive 2002-49-EU, the medium sized cities of Volos and Larissa in central Greece recently completed (2012) their strategic noise maps and relevant action plans that define the main strategies to reduce noise exposure of residents and introduce and preserve "quite zones". For the first time in this framework, it has been decided to introduce, as well, a general study for five specific urban districts covering not only the measurement and modeling of environmental noise levels but also qualitative surveys on the sound perception by the residents and several analyses of the urban and architectural tissue. The districts (respectively four in Volos and one in Larissa with the two of them in the center of both agglomerations) were chosen as representatives of urban situations due to their proximity to transportation infrastructures (main road network, industrial harbor facilities and both regional and intercity train network) and also because they represent different urban typologies (residential district, downtown area with or without shops, more or less densely populated neighborhood, etc.…). Sociological surveys on sound and noise perception have been implemented on some 15% of the residents per district using opened questionnaires. Soundscape analysis was also conducted through qualitative criteria. A cross-analysis of these data explains in detail the physical reasons for the existence of sound qualities that contribute to the identity of each distinct neighborhood. This paper, in a strategic plan level, has introduced valuable recommendations in order not only to preserve the sound quality on the existing sites but also to authorize developers and decision makers (mayors, architects, town planners) to evolve them positively over time.

Keywords: Directive 2002/49/EC; Noise action plans; Noise annoyance; Soundscape; Strategic noise maps.

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • City Planning / methods*
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Environmental Policy
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Noise*