Classifying urban public spaces according to their soundscape
* Presenting author
Cities are composed of many types of outdoor spaces, each with their distinct soundscape. Some of these soundscapes can be extraordinary, others are often less memorable. However, most locations in a city are not visited with the purpose of experiencing the soundscape. Consequently, the soundscape will not necessarily attract attention. Existing methods based on the circumplex model of affect classify soundscapes according to the pleasure and arousal they evoke, but do not fully take into account the goals and expectations of the listener. Therefore, in earlier work, a top-level hierarchical classification method was developed, which distinguishes between spaces based on the degree to which the soundscape creates awareness of the acoustical environment, matches expectations and arouses the listener. This paper presents the results of an immersive laboratory experiment, designed to validate this classification method. The experiment involved 40 participants and 50 audiovisual recordings drawn from the Urban Soundscapes of the World database. It is shown that the proposed classification method results in clearly distinct classes, and that membership to these classes can be explained well by physical parameters, extracted from the acoustical environment as well as the visual scene.