Increasing cities' capacity to manage noise and air quality using urban morphology and urban greening

Air pollution and noise produces significant adverse environmental effects internationally. In street environments in Swedish urban areas, the road traffic is the greatest source of both noise and PM10 particles, and the indicators that are linked to the environmental objectives of Clean Air and Good Built Environment do not show a positive overall trend.


To date, noise and air quality are often handled separately. This is inefficient, results in unnecessary construction costs and may lead to an unnecessarily bad housing environment, or missed out opportunities for creating new housing. The proposed research will result in guidelines for urban planning with aim to lead to reduced exposure to both air pollution and noise.


The goal of the proposed project is to develop a set of guidelines for planning, where the effects of air pollution and noise are combined in terms of urban morphology (shape and location of buildings in relation to roads) and with the use of green surfaces (low vegetation, bushes and trees).


The project work is carried out across the disciplines of acoustics, air quality, and architecture/urban planning in co-work with two cities. The guidelines are planned to be developed through numerical modelling of a number of cases, including two real-case studies. Communication is planned through internal policy-related work at the cities, and via a booklet, workshops and reports as well as via scientific journal and conference papers.

Partner organizations

  • COWI AB (Private, Sweden)
Start date 01/01/2018
End date 31/12/2020


Figure 1. Idea sketch of solution using urban morphology and urban greening. In the left-hand model, both air ventilation and sound propagation are blocked, which can provide a good sound environment in the courtyard but poor air quality on the street side. In the right model a preliminary example of a solution where high levels of air pollution in the street can be transported by opening the building block. The position of the opening is selected with regard to the streets and the opening are acoustically absorbent by means of facade vegetation.

Funded by

  • Formas (Public, Sweden)

Published: Thu 31 May 2018.