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Floating barrier winner against noise pollution

With their buoyant scheme, Brandes en Meurs were announced as the winners of Schiphol Airport's design competition to ‘Create a Barrier of Silence’.

By Editor Design.nl / 19-02-2009

Brandes en Meurs’ ‘Dobber’ concept has received first prize within the category for design agencies at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s international design competition ‘Create a Barrier of Silence’.

The goal of the competition was to find a way to reduce low frequency noise pollution emitted by aircraft during take-off at Schiphol’s Polder runway.

The 'Dobber' concept is in line with both the long-lived Dutch fascination with wind and water as well as today's need for sustainable solutions. It can be best described as a floating dynamic sound barrier that changes between a flat and an upright position by manipulation of buoyancy and balance. This is done by adding or removing water ballast to and from the floating structure. Compared to a static barrier, ‘Dobber’ can be located much closer to the source of the sound enabling effective noise reduction while consuming minimal of materials and space. By letting it float on the water and allowing it to wave frequently with gusts of wind, the construction can be kept light and deep foundation becomes unnecessary. Photovoltaic cells on the upper surface are expected to produce more than three times as much energy as the system consumes, making it a net energy producer. Finally the water basin in which the barrier floats contributes to the much needed water storage capacity in the area.

When sound reduction is necessary eight large water pumps fill ballast tanks inside the barrier's structure. This changes the centre of gravity causing the structure to stand up. It takes up to four minutes for all 103 sections of the wall to rise to a height of 13 meters above ground level. When sound reduction is not necessary the water inside the ballast tanks is released through exhaust valves causing 'Dobber' to rotate towards the flat position again. Finally the screen is almost invisible in the landscape, the waterway is covered and all heavy components are at least half a meter below ground level. In this regard there is compliance with all requirements of flight safety concerning landing aircraft.

The barrier will be installed on the edge of developments located alongside the Polder runway.

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