Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Urban Canyon Effects - Noise

This graphic, from NY Magazine, shows how noise can be a problem in streets lined with tall buildings.

As we have more instances of tall buildings across the narrow streets from each other we will be subject to more noise. The sounds of city life - vehicles, air conditioners, people talking, music, etc. - will not dissipate as easily when there are hard surfaces that reflect the sound back and forth.

Since we have narrow streets in downtown Sarasota, there is not much we can do to prevent canyon effects. Duany suggested that stepping back buildings at the fourth story would mitigate these effects. Unfortunately our code makes this step back optional.

On the other hand, arcades are no longer allowed. Arcades magnify the canyon effects by narrowing the street even further.

Canopy trees can muffle noise by disrupting the sound wave patterns and absorbing some of the waves. However sunlight available may be insufficient for tree growth on some of our streets when we get more high-rise buildings lining each side of the street.

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