Silence roadway clamor

By Lauren Duensing

November 2010 - Inspired by Spanish artist Eusebio Sempere's "Noise Crystal," a sculpture of towering pipes clustered together, Van Campen Industries took the inspirational design further and applied a practical use to the concept as a noise barrier. VHP Stedenbouwkundige, a Dutch company of architects and landscapers in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, adapted the artist's inspiration, designing a mass of cylindrical aluminium pipes. Unlike the tall, solid, concrete walls usually erected to muffle the roadway sounds to neighboring communities, Van Campen Industries set out to create a unique design that served a practical purpose. The Dutch Aluminium Center in cooperation with the European Aluminium Association, Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie and Aluminium International Trade Fair and Conferenceissued the award in September 2010.

A total of 33 products were nominated for the award and six winners were selected in categories ranging from best design to most innovative. According to the awards committee jury, Van Campen Industries' noise barrier, which won the award for best design, "showed an innovative approach to traffic noise reduction together with an adopted process to produce tubes in the barrier. [It is a] clear example of a total performance approach."

Van Campen chose aluminum because of its durable and flexible design, says J.A. van Campen, CEO and managing director of Van Campen Industries. "Aluminum is lightweight and 95 percent recyclable," van Campen adds, noting the metal is also long-lasting and cost-effective.

The "Sound of Silence" noise barrier is a 20-meter noise-reducing structure erected to muffle the noise of the A2 motorway in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The barrier's towering height is aided by the 1 billion 6 millimeter diameter holes running up and down each aluminum column. The "pipe organ" is the largest high-tech screen in Europe. Despite the towering barrier's appearance, the apparatus is capable of being completely taken down and relocated, and maintenance is easier because prefabricated elements can be used to replace any damaged and worn parts. Aluminum can last more than 100 years, making it a preferable material to use for a structure constantly exposed to weather's elements. Concrete typically is used for such barriers and is subject to cracks and weather-induced repairs.

The Rijkswaterstaat Board of North Brabant,which is an executive of the Ministry of Transport in Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands, constructed the framework. The tubes also were lined along the new HSL (high speed line of railways), which also creates a substantial noise problem for neighboring communities. The screen offers a practical yet aesthetically pleasing solution to a mounting noise problem.

Noise-control's overall benefits
According to van Campen, the new noise barrier will allow for "extremely positive" noise barrier innovations going forward. The apparatus' ability to be uprooted easily and relocated is valuable to the communities situated along public roadways. "The barrier improves the quality of life for surrounding homes and allows for higher property values all-around," says van Campen.

In a 2007 report by CE Delft, an independent research and consultancy organization based in Delft, the Netherlands, the social cost of road traffic noise in the European Union is approximately $30-billion-to-$46 billion per year, which is nearly 0.4 percent of total GDP in the EU. One-third of road accidents are related to traffic noise. Van Campen believes it makes sense to use a design that will lessen both the financial burden on the Dutch government as well as be less taxing to the health of the population.

According to CE Delft's report, prolonged discussions and political procedures regarding noise control were a big cost to Europe, both financially and healthwise. Van Campen's innovative design is a step in the right direction, offering an affordable and aesthetically pleasing solution to a problem that has plagued these communities for a number of years. MM







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