In urban environments noise pollution presents a considerable hazard to inhabitants. At the recent Skyscraper Competition the company eVolo presented a novel design that takes advantage of excess noise pollution by converting sound waves into energy.
- Dubbed the Soundscraper, the proposed design converts the kinetic potential of ambient noise into energy via sound sensors that cover the façade of the building. Road, pedestrian, construction and even aircraft noise can be converted to electrical energy which may be used to power the building or to feed excess electricity back into the grid system.
- This concept represents a new urban interaction whereby waste space and noise are used to tackle multiple environmental issues. Another, more commercially advanced example, is the use of coloured glass imprinted with transparent solar cells able to convert sunlight into electricity.
Though the Soundscaper is conceptual it does present a novel approach to improving urban welfare while also extracting additional energy/environmental benefit. These types of multi-faceted solutions may be adopted elsewhere, for example green spaces that treat urban runoff or the use of green roofs to mitigate the heat island effect and to produce food. Future research strategies may wish to consider funding this type of ‘joined-up’ approach to urban planning and development.