Amsterdam had a problem with noise from its airport. The solution was a huge anechoic park

  • After the construction of the new runway in Schiphol, the neighbors complained about the low-frequency noises
  • The solution was a park that cut decibels in half
Airport noise

Living next to an airport can be traumatic for many people. It is a major source of noise both through the air and through the ground and, although research is being carried out to mitigate it as much as possible, it is still a problem. NASA has been researching for a few years to make planes up to 70% quieter and in London they have tested different inclinations in landing.

But good gardening equipment may be the best solution. That, more or less, is what they put into practice a few years ago at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and it seems to have worked.

New problematic track. As with other airports, Schiphol Airport is surrounded by housing. For the western residential area it was not too big of a problem, as they were a good distance away, but the tranquility ended in 2003. It was the year in which they opened the fifth runway of the airport, baptized as ‘Polderbaan’. It was then that the residents of the northern area of Hoofddorp began to suffer the consequences of the ground noise.

An airplane is a noisy vehicle, but when it is most annoying is on takeoff. In this phase, the speed is increased rapidly, the engines are revved and a noise of up to 120 dB is produced, which spreads bouncing off the ground. It’s common to see small forests on the edges of airports to absorb some of this noise, but the solution they found for this new Schiphol runway was much more ingenious.

Anechoic park. This noise when taking off is low frequency and can travel long distances without losing too much intensity. In addition, when it rained or the field was icy, it bounced more easily, losing less intensity and increasing range. Something had to be done, so a study was conducted and concluded that a 10 dB reduction would help make life in those nearby homes more comfortable.

One thing the neighbors realized is that when the fields were ploughed between the airport land and the town, the noise was somewhat lower, so they began testing with powerful speakers and aircraft engine noises to design the solution. And they concluded that an area built as if it were a huge anechoic plate could be the solution.


Embankments and trenches. The H+N+S Landscape Architects studio, specialized in green and sustainable architecture, got down to work and began to design a field that would work as an anechoic plate (like those placed on walls in recording studios) not to trap sound, but to disperse it. In this way, that low-frequency sound that bounces off the ground until it reaches the residential area, a relief would be found that would disperse it upwards.

Thus, with an area of 36 hectares, between 2012 and 2013 H+N+S built this enormous anechoic park with triangular ridges three meters high. Two of them are above ground and one underground and are like small wedge-shaped hills that, according to studies, achieved a reduction of 5.5 dB.

Alternative uses. The place not only became an area to disperse the noise of the planes, but also a park. Hence its name ‘Land Art Park’, with areas for walking, a long bike path that crosses the place, a plot of 500 meters long and 100 meters wide that can be used as a playground or for cultural events and sculptures scattered around the area.

In other words, apart from improving the lives of the residents by dispersing the noise of the planes, it has become a new park for the inhabitants of the area and the airport itself encourages it to be visited and enjoyed.



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