“Soundscape” is the acoustic environment as perceived or experienced and/or understood by people, in context.
Soundscape started to be a research field in the late sixties and received significant attention by researchers in the last twenty years in the field of community noise and environmental acoustics, and more recently by policy makers and practitioners due to its multidisciplinary approach focusing on how people actually experience their acoustic environments.
Soundscape research represents a paradigm shift as it involves not only physical measurements but also the cooperation of human/social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, architecture, anthropology, medicine), to account for the diversity of soundscapes across countries and cultures; and it considers environmental sounds as a “resource” rather than a “waste”.
Research on soundscape has clearly addressed the need to transfer outcomes into the practice of soundscape design. In this process, the models of soundscape are useful tools to assist urban planners and designers in predicting the potential users’ appraisals of a designed soundscape and to tune it in order to match subjective expectations and experiences.
For a fuller discussion of the soundscape concept, see the presentation below (courtesy Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp):