• Factors affecting tranquillity in the countryside.

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (24/05/2013)
      Previous work on elucidating the tranquillity of various environments has largely focussed on prediction and validation in urban environments. The setting for the latest phase of research was an English country park and surrounding moors on the urban fringe located 8 miles west of Bradford. Within the area selected there were a number of environments and man-made features and sounds that were thought to significantly affect tranquillity and which were not covered in earlier studies. The experiment extended over a number of months and utilised a jury technique for evaluation involving leading small groups of walkers to different locations in quasi-random order. At each location participants were asked to complete a short questionnaire and measurements of the physical soundscape and landscape images were used to interpret the results and give insights into the importance of the various factors affecting tranquillity. Such data will be useful for effective environmental management and conservation in the countryside.
    • Identifying restorative environments and quantifying impacts

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2013)
    • Identifying tranquil environments and quantifying impacts

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2015-03)
      The UK has recently recognized the importance of tranquil spaces in the National Planning Policy Framework. This policy framework places considerable emphasis on sustainable development with the aim of making planning more streamlined, localized and less restrictive. Specifically it states that planning policies and decisions should aim to "identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason". This is considered by some (e.g. National Park Authorities) to go beyond merely identifying quiet areas based on relatively low levels of mainly transportation noise, as the concept of tranquillity implies additionally a consideration of visual intrusion of man-made structures and buildings into an Otherwise perceived natural landscape. In the first instance this paper reports on applying a method for predicting the perceived tranquillity of a place and using this approach to classify the level of tranquillity in existing areas. It then seeks to determine the impact of a new build, by taking the example of the construction of wind turbines in the countryside. For this purpose; noise level measurements, photographs and jury assessments of tranquillity at a medium sized land based wind turbine were made. It was then possible to calculate the decrement of noise levels and visual prominence with distance in order to determine the improvement of tranquillity rating with increasing range. The point at which tranquillity was restored in the environment allowed the calculation of the position of the footprint boundary. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    • The importance of auditory-visual interaction in the construction of tranquil spaces.

      Pheasant, Robert J.; Fisher, M.N.; Watts, Gregory R.; Whitaker, David J.; Horoshenkov, Kirill V. (Elsevier, 2010-04)
      In a world of sensory overload, it is becoming increasingly important to provide environments that enable us to recover our sense of well being. Such restorative (`tranquil¿) environments need to comprise sufficient sensory stimulation to keep us engaged, whilst at the same time providing opportunity for reflection and relaxation. One essential aspect in safeguarding existing, or developing new `tranquil space¿, is understanding the optimum relationship between the soundscape and the visual composition of a location. This research represents a first step in understanding the effects of audio-visual interaction on the perception of tranquillity and identifies how the interpretation of acoustic information is an integral part of this process. By using uni and bi-modal auditory-visual stimuli in a two stage experimental strategy, it has been possible to measure the key components of the tranquillity construct. The findings of this work should be of particular interest to those charged with landscape management, such as National Park Authorities, Regional Councils, and other agencies concerned with providing and maintaining public amenity.
    • Influence of soundscape and interior design on anxiety and perceived tranquillity of patients in a healthcare setting

      Watts, Gregory R.; Khan, Amir; Pheasant, Robert J. (2016-03)
      Tranquillity characterized by a pleasant but calming environment is often to be found in natural environments where man-made noise is at a low level though natural sounds can be relatively high. Numerous studies have shown a link between such restorative environments and hospital recovery rates, stress reduction, longevity, pain relief and even how the brain processes auditory signals. In hospitals and primary care facilities there is a need to improve patient waiting rooms as current designs are largely based solely on medical need. There are often long waits in such spaces and patients are coping with the stress and anxiety caused by their medical condition. Attention should therefore be given to creating ‘‘restorative environment” as a component to their medical treatment. The study describes the effects of introducing natural sounds and large images of natural landscapes into a waiting room in a student health center. Using self reported levels of anxiety and tranquillity it was possible to assess the impact that these targeted auditory and visual interventions had in affecting the quality of the patient experience. Following the changes results show that levels of reported tranquillity were significantly improved but there were smaller change in reported reductions in anxiety.
    • Investigation of noise and disturbance from vehicles crossing cattle grids and examination of options for mitigation

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J.; Khan, Amir (2017)
      Cattle grids are used on roads and tracks to prevent grazing animals from leaving an open space without fencing onto a more controlled area where access to the road from surrounded land is more limited. They are widely used in the UK at the entrances to common and moorland areas where animals are free to roam, but also on private drive entrances. Typically, they consist of a series of metal bars across the road that are spaced so that an animal’s legs would fall through the gaps if it attempted to cross. Below the grid is a shallow pit that is intended to further deter livestock from using that particular crossing point. The sound produced as vehicles cross these devices is a characteristic low frequency “brrrr” where the dominant frequencies relates to the bar passage frequency under the tyres. The sound can be disturbing to riders and their horses and walkers and residents living close by as evidenced by press reports and the need to consider noise aspects in planning for new installations. For this reason and due to the lack of available information on the size and nature of the problem measurements and recordings have been made at a number of sites in Yorkshire in the UK. In addition, questionnaire surveys of residents living close by and façade measurements have also been used to gauge impact. Results show that there is a wide variation in the maximum noise level produced by cattle grids of apparently similar design. This can be related to impact noise produced by the movement of all or part of the grid as the frame comes under impulsive loading as the vehicle crosses. It was further established that some residents living close to the cattle grids were disturbed by the noise, and in some cases vibration, and wanted them removed or suitably modified. Means of reducing the problem are proposed.
    • Measurement and subjective assessment of water generated sounds

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J.; Horoshenkov, Kirill V.; Ragonesi, L. (2009-11)
      There is increasing concern with protecting quiet and tranquil areas from intrusive noise. Noise reduction at source and barriers to transmission are mitigation measures often considered. An alternative is to attempt to mask or distract attention away from the noise source. The masking or distracting sound source should be pleasant so that it does not add to any irritation caused by the noise source alone. The laboratory measurements described in this paper consisted of capturing under controlled conditions the third octave band spectra of water falling onto water, gravel, bricks and small boulders and various combinations. These spectra were then matched with typical traffic noise spectra to assess the degree of masking that could be expected for each option. Recordings were also taken during each measurement and these were used later to enable the subjective assessment of the tranquility of the sounds. It was found that there were differences between water sounds both in terms of masking and their subjective impact on tranquility.
    • Noise and disturbance caused by vehicles crossing cattle grids: comparison of installations

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J.; Khan, Amir (2017-01-15)
      Cattle grids are used on roads and tracks to prevent grazing animals from leaving an open space without fencing onto a more controlled area where access to the road from surrounded land is more limited. They are widely used in the UK at the entrances to common and moorland areas where animals are free to roam, but also on private drive entrances. Typically, they consist of a series of metal bars across the road that are spaced so that an animal’s legs would fall through the gaps if it attempted to cross. Below the grid is a shallow pit that is intended to further deter livestock from using that particular crossing point. The sound produced as vehicles cross these devices is a characteristic low frequency “brrrr” where the dominant frequencies relates to the bar passage frequency under the tyres. The sound can be disturbing to riders and their horses and walkers and residents living close by as evidenced by press reports and the need to consider noise aspects in planning for new installations. For this reason and due to the lack of available information on the size and nature of the problem measurements and recordings have been made at a number of sites in Yorkshire in the UK. In addition, questionnaire surveys of residents living close by and façade measurements have also been used to gauge impact. Results show that there is a wide variation in the maximum noise level produced by cattle grids of apparently similar design. This can be related to impact noise produced by the movement of all or part of the grid as the frame comes under impulsive loading as the vehicle crosses. It was further established that some residents living close to the cattle grids were disturbed by the noise, and in some cases vibration, and wanted them removed or suitably modified.
    • The acoustic and visual factors influencing the construction of tranquil space in urban and rural environments tranquil spaces-quiet places?

      Pheasant, Robert J.; Horoshenkov, Kirill V.; Watts, Gregory R.; Barrett, Brendan T. (2008)
      Prior to this work no structured mechanism existed in the UK to evaluate the tranquillity of open spaces with respect to the characteristics of both acoustic and visual stimuli. This is largely due to the fact that within the context of "tranquil" environments, little is known about the interaction of the audio-visual modalities and how they combine to lead to the perception of tranquillity. This paper presents the findings of a study in which visual and acoustic data, captured from 11 English rural and urban landscapes, were used by 44 volunteers to make subjective assessments of both their perceived tranquillity of a location, and the loudness of five generic soundscape components. The results were then analyzed alongside objective measurements taken in the laboratory. It was found that the maximum sound pressure level (L(Amax)) and the percentage of natural features present at a location were the key factors influencing tranquillity. Engineering formulas for the tranquillity as a function of the noise level and proportion of the natural features are proposed.
    • The effects of "greening" urban areas on the perceptions of tranquility

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2015)
      A number of studies have been conducted at the Bradford Centre for Sustainable Environments at the University of Bradford which have examined the effects of natural features on ratings of tranquillity. These include quantifying the effects of the percentage of natural and contextual features and man-made noise on rated tranquillity. Recently the resulting prediction equation TRAPT (Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool) has been used to examine a number of scenarios including city parks and square, country parks and moorland areas and to relate predictions to ratings made by visitors to these green spaces and reported levels of relaxation. The tool has also been used for predicting tranquillity in city squares of different sizes, to examine tranquillity behind natural (green) and manufactured noise barriers and to assess the benefits of “greening” streets in urban areas using avenues of trees, hedges and grass verges. The paper reviews these studies and gives examples of the extent to which introducing vegetation is predicted to provide benefits.
    • Towards predicting wildness in the United Kingdom

      Pheasant, Robert J.; Watts, Gregory R. (2015-01)
      his paper reports the findings of a study that presented bi-modal audio-visual stimuli (video footage), to experimental subjects under controlled conditions, in order to obtain reliable estimates of perceived wildness, naturalness, felt remoteness and tranquillity. The research extends beyond the literature and demonstrates that unlike tranquillity, wildness appears to be a more intellectual or cognitive construct. However, it does relate well to remoteness and naturalness and is reduced by the presence of mechanical noise. By using the approach previously employed for the development of a Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool (TRAPT), it has been demonstrated that a similar methodology is also appropriate for wildness. WRAPT (Wildness Rating Prediction Tool) is the first attempt to predict wildness from physical variables, the values of which can be readily obtained from field surveys supplemented by detailed maps where large areas require assessment. The findings of this study will be of interest to those responsible for managing and marketing protected areas such as National Parks, practitioners involved in carrying out landscape character assessments, cartographers wishing to incorporate reliable acoustic data within their vector or raster based stacks and landscape architects involved in designing wild and tranquil spaces across a range of scales.
    • Towards quantifying the quality of tranquil areas with reference to the National Planning Policy Framework.

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (24/05/2013)
      The UK has recently recognized the importance of tranquil spaces in the National Planning Policy Framework, NPPF. This paper reports on applying the tranquillity rating prediction tool, TRAPT for predicting the perceived tranquillity of a place and using this tool to classify the levels of tranquillity in existing areas. The tool combines soundscape and landscape measures to produce a tranquillity rating on a 0-10 rating scales. For these purposes noise maps, spot noise level measurements, photographic surveys were used to predict tranquillity levels in 8 parks and open spaces in or near the city of Bradford in West Yorkshire in the UK. In addition interviews were conducted with visitors to validate these predictions. It was found that there was a reasonably close relationship between predicted and average assessments given by park visitors which confirmed the usefulness of the tranquillity rating prediction tool for planning and conservation purposes.
    • Tranquility in the city

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2013)
      The number of people visiting their local parks and countryside is increasing according to a recent survey published by Natural England [1]. An important reason given for visiting green spaces was to “relax and unwind” and these areas can be considered restorative or tranquil environments giving relief from cognitive overload and reduction of stress. Our green spaces can be a refuge from the din of city life and the green environment can provide shelter for wildlife and bird song can be heard. But are they suffi- ciently tranquil and what guidance do we have for improving such spaces if they are not?
    • Tranquillity and soundscapes in urban green spaces ¿ predicted and actual assessments from a questionnaire survey.

      Watts, Gregory R.; Miah, Abdul H.S.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2013)
      A pilot study had previously demonstrated the utility of a tranquillity prediction tool TRAPT for use in 3 green open spaces in a densely populated area. This allows the calculation of perceived levels of tranquillity in open spaces. The current study expands the range of sites to 8 and importantly considers the views of visitors to these spaces. In total 252 face to face interviews were conducted in these spaces. An important aim of the survey was to determine the extent to which reported tranquillity obtained from the questionnaire survey could be predicted by a previously developed prediction tool TRAPT. A further aim was to determine what additional factors may need to be considered in addition to the purely physical descriptors in TRAPT. The questions included the sounds and sights that were noticed, factors affecting tranquillity as well as questions relating to the benefits of visiting these areas. Predictions were considered satisfactory and could be further improved by taking account of issues surrounding personal safety. Examining the trends in these data it was also shown that the percentage of people feeling more relaxed after visiting the spaces was closely related to overall assessments of perceived tranquillity. Further trends and their implications are presented and discussed in the paper.
    • Tranquillity in the Scottish Highlands and Dartmoor National Park – The importance of soundscapes and emotional factors.

      Watts, Gregory R.; Pheasant, Robert J. (2015-03)
      The findings of a wildness study are presented where audio–visual stimuli (video footage), were assessed by experimental subjects under controlled conditions, in order to obtain reliable estimates of perceived tranquillity together with a number of other rated qualities including calmness and pleasantness. A wide range of mainly natural scenes totalling 46 were presented including footage from the Scottish Highlands and Dartmoor National Park. The findings clearly demonstrate that rated tranquillity relates closely to rated calmness and pleasantness and this agrees with earlier studies of soundscape categorisation. The effect of adding man-made sounds to the soundscape was shown to seriously degrade perceived tranquillity though ratings of wildness were not nearly as affected. Attempts to improve the level of tranquillity further by adding natural sounds were largely unsuccessful. It was considered important to determine if the previously employed Tranquillity Rating Prediction Tool (TRAPT) successfully validated for mainly urban open spaces could usefully predict tranquility in remote wildland areas. In fact results demonstrated the relatively close relationship between predicted and actually rated tranquillity in these remote areas which further extended the range of validity of the prediction tool. The findings of this study will challenge the notion that characterization of landscapes is purely a visual exercise and that soundscape quality needs to be considered as an integral part of this assessment process. For this reason the findings will be of interest to those responsible for managing and marketing protected areas such as National Parks, practitioners involved in carrying out landscape character assessments, cartographers and landscape architects involved in designing tranquil spaces across a range of scales.