Thinking with My Ears: Guidance on Sound for Landscape Architects

Landscape Architects, together with other design professionals such as urban designers, architects, and engineers, play a primary role in the composition of the soundscape. Through our design and management interventions, we compose the geophony (geophysical sounds), biophony (biological sounds) and anthrophony (anthropogenic sounds) of the landscape. But how many of us think of ourselves as soundscape composers, as 'soundscape architects'?

This paper introduces an outline guide to sound for Landscape Architects. The guidance brings attention to an area of soundscape research highly relevant to the practice of Landscape Architecture and it has been written to enable future 'soundscape' architects to incorporate the advice into their existing working practices from site analysis to maintenance stages. The guide seeks to expand landscape architects' tools and skills to assess existing soundscapes, predict how those soundscapes will be altered through their designs, consider sound as an active part of the design process and envisage how users might perceive and be affected by those soundscapes.

The application of the guide to Landscape Architecture projects will add value, contribute to sustainability, and increment the design quality of completed landscapes. For example:
- It will add social value through the reduction of noise pollution that has detrimental effects on human health and well-being (from triggering hearing loss to causing nuisance) and incorporation of positive sounds that are the source of much joy and conducive to relaxation.
- It will contribute to sustainability by employing sound and listening to detect and monitor the health of habitats.
- It will increment the design quality by helping define the brief of a project to make best use of the site including existing habitats, by expanding the site analysis and concept, and by designing soundscapes that complement the design intent of the scheme and provide joy.


  • Project Name

    Thinking with My Ears: Guidance on Sound for Landscape Architects

  • Location


  • Category

    Research, documentation and publication

  • Landscape Architect

    Usue Ruiz Arana

  • Client

    Newcastle University

  • Awards

    LI Awards 2020 Finalist - Landscape Innovation Award


  • Project Team

    Collaborators: Oobe Ltd This guidance is partially illustrated through a prospective project developed in collaboration with Oobe.

  • Year Completed


  • Usue Ruiz Arana

  • Approximate Map Location



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