Schiphol Sound Barrier

The Schiphol: Create a Barrier of Silence competition is now completed. Various Architects and their international team received Second Place in the Business category of the competition. Although the project did not win one of the three main prizes we believe that we delivered a solid project that answered Schiphol’s call to innovation and sustainability. 9 companies and 27 individuals contributed to this project, and the high level of detail presented is a testimony to their dedication and teamwork.

“Dynamic Sculpture” is a design that will showcase Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. The iconic retractable wall achieves the required 7 dB sound reduction by combining new materials, sustainable design, and a simple yet spectacular lifting solution. The proposed Environmental Hub educational building and associated sustainable landscape park will create a world-class focus point for green technology and design. Together, these elements form a complex that would attract and educate visitors while also actively cleaning the environment, generating green energy, and recycling airport waste.

The competition parameters for sound reduction combined with the relevant airport and municipal regulations for building made it clear that a dynamic structure was necessary to meet all of the program requirements. The necessary ground noise reduction is achieved by designing a retractable wall of optimum height and closeness to the runway. Sound insulation of the wall is provided by the surface mass of the folded thermoplastic panels and by air-sealed connections when in the upright position. The position and shape of the wall are formed in response to the changing noise levels along the length of the runway, at the beginning of the runway the wall is placed relatively closer. It gently curves further away as the sound levels decrease with distance.

The 2.1km undulating wall is faceted into 10m sections comprised of: folded horizontal thermoplastic panels, steel lifting poles, a rolling counterweight connected to electric motors, and a base structure of precast elements. A high degree of prefabrication is specified to reduce on-site construction time and provide the necessary tolerances between the pieces. All aspects of the project have been designed to minimize the disruption of airport activity and to ensure that it can be built within the required 18 month construction schedule.

The development of a rolling counterweight lifting system provides the extreme reliability necessary for installations in the demanding airport environment. It also ensures a short conversion time for extension (3 min.) and retraction (1 min.) of the wall. The rolling counterweight on rails provides a spectacular visual element in the park and ensures the synchronised lifting of the wall. A redundant system of motors combined with a high mechanical efficiency and low friction moving components ensures that the wall will not get stuck in the up position, even under high wind loads. The mechanical nature of the counterweight connection of the wall to the counterweight ensures that the wall can be lifted and retracted, even in the extreme case of 10% motor failures.

The proposed landscape park would provide an educative layout of different environmental technologies on display for the public, as well as the production of electricity via solar, bio-gas, and bio-fuel production. The Hub Park creates a mini polder landscape where different technologies can be demonstrated, whereas the larger park area would be used for the cleaning of de-icing fluid, generation of electricity, and recycling of organic waste. Overall the park would provide a new public promenade for local residents, visitors, and plane spotters alike.

Status:Second Place Business Category
Client:Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Location:Amsterdam Airport, Netherlands
Size:2 km
Team: Camilla Eduardsen, Ibrahim Elhayawan, Jim Dodson, Tom Juul-Gam