Global Comfort in urban planning and acoustic design of buildings

In the Environmental Noise Directive, the concept of action plan and its implementation have been proposed as strategic solutions for reducing noise in cities and to enhance a better acoustic quality in urban places, allowing citizens to spend their time with pleasure in public areas. In this scenario, the combination of sustainability and quality of life issues becomes a crucial keyword as it takes into account how we might live comfortably in harmony with the natural world around us, protecting it from damage and destruction. This combination must be considered by policy makers and city planners in all its possible aspects, considering open spaces and built environment. Urban action plans and design of new buildings should follow an encompassing view, based on the knowledge of nature, functions, and properties of the components, their interactions and their relationship to the whole. Specific variables of different kinds represent the factors of comfort, effects of noise and acoustic quality of places together with other environmental issues like thermal comfort and air quality, as well as other aspects, like safety and mobility that can be considered in the definition of well-being, comfort, quality of life in cities. These variables can be combined in indexes that quantify the cost-benefit ratios of urban planner choices under the lens of global comfort approach. Developers of noise maps and noise action plans acoustic planners and designer of actions and solutions for urban areas and buildings can apply holistic approaches to noise mitigation and reduction of annoyance, protecting exisiting soundscapes and creating new comfortable soundscapes in urban spaces. In designing buildings and interiors, architect and acousticians can apply a holistic approach, based on the principle of maximizing the pleasantness of places and the global satisfaction of people, with the common objective of removing or reducing sounds “out of places” and making possible the listening of good sounds. Some examples of solutions inspired by the global comfort approach are shown. The Eurocities WG Noise members and Environment Forum participants are invited to share ideas and experiences regarding the Global Comfort approach and to show their interest for future collaborations in this frame.

Authors: Luzzi, Bellomini, Bartalucci