Noise from road traffic is one of the most widespread threats to inhabitants’ quality of life and their health. But living on the edge of a motorway or close to the rails could soon become a noiseless luxury.
The property developer Extensa has just embarked on a first in Belgium: the creation of a wall of apartments along the E19 at Kontich, near to Anvers. The building (650 m long and 13 m high) has not just been designed to house 180 homes but also to play the role of “sound barrier” in order to protect the rest of the neighbourhood from the noise pollution from the motorway.
According to the Flemish Institute for technological research (Vito) and the Technum design office, the long aluminium façade treated to withstand wear and the acoustic glazing will take the ambient noise down from 70 to 55 decibels in “Parkwijk Groeningen”, a new eco-neighbourhood of 650 homes that will spread over 25 ha.
Less noise than in town
To achieve this level of noise insulation, all the homes will have the same layout: the main rooms give onto the noise-protected enclosure, with private gardens and vegetated walkways. They also have a dual-flow ventilation system and are provided, on the motorway side, with glazing with high-performance insulation, ” to the point that the sound level, at the centre of the island, is lowered by 15 to 20 dB and the traffic noise inside these homes is felt less than in the Haussmanian buildings in town” affirms the architect Peter Vermeulen, of the Stramien practice. And this when the façade is just twenty metres from the motorway.
An innovative project that also has good future prospects. As the land is more accessible along the E19, the prices of the apartments and of the houses of this future neighbourhood will vary between 200,000 Euro and 400,000 Euro. So, people will be queueing up to buy an asset located beside motorway or a main road. Tomorrow, land adjoining these roads may be particularly pleasant places to live. Even more so seeing as in twenty years’ time we will be driving electric cars, noiseless by definition.