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MOONscape: Amsterdam Airport Sound Barrier

November 19, 2009

Jason Austin and Aleksandr Mergold  established architecture and landscape design practice Austin + Mergold in 2007 and part of their research is focused on speculative projects according to their work process as slow architecture. As they comments in their site: Believing that it is preferable to rethink and repurpose existing resources than to tap new ones, we infiltrate existing systems that are responsible for built form, rather than reinvent the wheel each time.”

In 2008 they worked on this project: MOONScape with the scope to design a sound barrier for the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Airport, that opened on 16 September 1916 as a military airbase, consisting of a few barracks and a field serving as both platform and runways. When civil aircraft started to make use of the field (17 December 1920), it was often called Schiphol-les-bains.

Above: The air traffic control tower at Schiphol in 1960.

Starting with the basic question: What is the ideal sound absorber?, now Austin + Mergold proposal is about a sound barrier an acoustically absorptive “land”scape not made of “land” a MOONscape, made of mundane everyday agrarian materials typical to the area. Vast storage sheds, built of recycled materials, filled with recycled permanent content (i.e. construction rubble) in the areas where sound reduction is most needed. The roofscape is used to create the iconic image of the moonscape, as well as control storm water flow.

As we can see in the sketch above, for the proposal local water table is high, therefore, cut cannot equal fill. The situation where fill is brought in from elsewhere creates a waste of energy. To use local and agrarian materials, they propose the use of corrugated recycled steel sheet piling (normally used for retaining sea-walls) to create rows of barriers, parallel to the runway. Then, introduce a permanent FILL* where sound absorption is critical, in this case in the south side and then, to made a deck over sheet pilings with DL (deep / long) open web joists (max. span 40 meters):

After all these works, the structre will be covered by a roof over (certain areas – see plan) joists with recycled corrugated fiberglass sheets (typical in agrarian accessory buildings). Before installation, fiberglass sheets are pre-printed with images of Moon surface. Together with the images, layering of roofed areas and their overlap will construct the iconic image of the moonscape when see from the plain, and create a multi-layered sound-trapping device on the ground.

And after all… Next station: THE MOON.

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