An Acoustically Optimised Garden Fountain to improve Soundscape Quality in Domestic Environments
* Presenting author
Traffic noise and other unwanted sounds can have a negative impact on human's health and quality of life, particularly in the domestic environment as a sensitive space of retreat. If noise reduction at the source is not feasible or does not yield the desired effect, introducing a pleasant sound into a noisy environment can improve the perceived pleasantness, as shown in several studies. To investigate this effect in private households, we designed an acoustically optimised garden fountain as such a pleasant sound source. The fountain was not designed to produce high sound pressure levels, as the intended effect was not to mask unpleasant sounds but to modify the focus of attention. In listening experiments, sounds of creeks were preferred over those of fountains or waterfalls. Therefore, we built the garden fountain as a three-step water cascade system with multiple outlets to achieve the acoustical characteristics of a small creek. The water flow rate and falling height were limited and a sawtooth edge design was applied. In a laboratory experiment, the fountain positively affected the pleasantness ratings of an auditory scene. To assess this effect under real-life conditions, we conducted an exploratory field study in households affected by traffic noise.