How Learning from Automotive Sound Quality can Inform Urban Soundscape Design

By Rebecca Cain and Paul Jennings.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

From an inter-disciplinary perspective, we explore how approaches from the engineering discipline of automotive sound quality are being applied to inform and inspire the design of positive user experiences in the built environment. Sound is often overlooked in design, but its role in creating a positive user experience can be just as important as designing for the visual sense. The sound of cars is important for automotive companies in helping to differentiate their vehicle brands; but we can also draw parallels here with the soundscapes (or “audible landscapes”) of urban environments, which are important for providing our towns and cities with a unique identity. Decision makers in urban planning have historically considered soundscapes just in terms of a required reduction in sound levels to meet legislation. However this fails to take into account the character of the sound, and who is to say that quieter is necessarily better? Automotive sound quality techniques, which allow engineers to design car sounds which produce a desired emotional response have advanced significantly in recent years, and we propose that this knowledge can be successfully applied to other domains where it is equally as important to create a positive user experience. Here, we present how our automotive sound quality methods are now informing our approach to urban soundscape design. We identify and reflect on the opportunities for shared learning and the areas where a different approach is needed.

Keywords: Inter-Disciplinary, Soundscape Design, Urban Design, Automotive Sound Quality

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.197-208. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.346MB).

Dr. Rebecca Cain

Senior Research Fellow, Warwick Manufacturing Group, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Dr. Cain is a Senior Research Fellow in the Experiential Engineering research group in Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick. She has a BA in Industrial Design & Technology and a PhD in user involvement in the design process through product representations and co-designing. Dr Cain’s principle research interests concern how to create positive user experiences for products and environments and she works on projects accross the healthcare, built environment and automotive sectors.

Prof. Paul Jennings

Professor, Experiential Engineering, Warwick Manufacturing Group, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Prof Jennings is head of the Experiential Engineering research group in Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick. Originally a physicist, his research interests are to do with turning subjective and emotional responses to products and environments into something that designers and engineers can work with.

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