Hearing is believing
How our SoundLab helps to design future infrastructure
Imagine being able to hear at the design stage what a planned railway or wind farm will sound like when complete. This is what our SoundLab enables you to do.
We’ve used SoundLab to inform the design of some of the world’s best arts and culture venues. We also use it alongside advanced technologies such as visualisation to let clients experience major infrastructure projects during the design process, shaping better design outcomes.
Combining Soundlab's simulations with visualisations offers a powerful way to bring sound into context.
Hear high-speed rail for yourself
SoundLab’s sound simulations (auralisations) help our clients demonstrate the impact that major projects such as HS2 will have on communities.
We estimate that 25,000 people listened to our HS2 auralisations during public consultation. What they heard was a direct, objective experience of future sound levels.
Members of the public and other key stakeholders could make up their own minds about the impact of modern high-speed trains when compared to the current Pendolino trains.
Our HS2 auralisations also demonstrated the impact of mitigation measures such as noise barriers, and the use of low-noise pantographs fitted with sound insulators. Listen on headphones for full 3D sound.
“The same “3D” sound technique that shaped the acoustics of Copenhagen and Oslo opera houses is recreating the sonic effect of state-of-the-art intercity trains passing through suburban London and prime swaths of home counties countryside”
An extremely powerful tool, SoundLab takes a human-centric view of design to give people objective, quantifiable information in an accessible format. It enables them to make up their own minds about what they hear.
For clients, SoundLab clarifies a design by making the intangible tangible. You don’t have to interpret decibel charts or acoustic maps; you can simply experience the design for yourself by listening. You can discuss what works and what doesn’t during the concept and design phase, and focus from the start on getting the design right.
Because SoundLab’s auralisations are perfectly matched to real-world conditions, clients and design teams can be sure they’re focusing on finding solutions for the real problem areas. The constructive dialogue this enables increases trust between designers, engineers, clients and the general public. SoundLab is open and objective enabling honest and real feedback.
“The general consensus was that the train did not sound as loud as feared"
What a wind farm really sounds like
Hydro Tasmania used SoundLab auralisations as part of the community consultation for its proposed 200-turbine TasWind wind farm at King Island.
The auralisations used calibrated and verified sound recordings from the existing Studland Bay Wind Farm together with real existing background noises for areas considered for new wind farms. People could hear for themselves what the proposed new turbines would sound like at their properties.
Other uses of SoundLab technology
Today, SoundLab technology in Arup offices around the world is helping clients achieve better outcomes for a wide range of projects. Terence Caulkins and Joseph Digerness from our New York office have taken things further by introducing virtual reality into the SoundLab - and in the film Seeing is believing they explore how truly immersive experiences can transform the design process.
Meet the team
Find out more about the people who’ve pioneered our approach to simulating sound.
Raj Patel, Global Acoustics Leader
Raj is Arup’s global leader of acoustics, audiovisual, and theatre consulting. He was pivotal in the research and development of tools to allow designers and artists to experience, both visually and aurally, how sites, buildings, environments, and artworks will sound and feel – before they are built. This culminated in the Arup SoundLab. Watch an introduction to the Soundlab.
Richard Greer, Project Director, HS2
With over 25 years’ experience Richard is recognised as a leading authority on railway noise and vibration. He pioneered the use of SoundLab and mobile SoundLab to demonstrate design and develop stakeholder engagement for major infrastructure projects including HS2 Ltd.
Kym Burgemeister, Infrastructure Acoustics leader in Australia
Kym leads assessment and design for railway systems and road infrastructure, and specialises in vibro-acoustic design for railway systems. Read Kym's Thoughts piece 'Hearing is believing'.
Frank Butera, Acoustic Consultant, Hydro Tasmania
Frank has over 18 years’ experience in acoustics and his specialisms include areas of acoustic planning, environmental noise, underwater noise, acoustic policy and development.