Professor Kang Jian, Bartlett, Department of Architecture, University College London (QS Architecture ranked first in the world)

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Kang Jian: Build a healthy and comfortable soundscape environment to help urban and rural green and low-carbon development

[Editor's Note]]

"We will strive to reach the peak of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060", which is China's solemn commitment to the international community. Focusing on the theme of green and low-carbon development in urban and rural construction, the International Green Construction Alliance invites experts to conduct interviews to provide decision-making reference for the high-quality development of urban and rural construction.

Kang Jian

Professor, University College London, UK

Royal Academy of Engineering

Member of the European Academy of Sciences

President of the International Society of Acoustics and Vibration

Expert of the Advisory Committee of the International Green Building Alliance

Kang Jian, teaches in the Bartlett Department of Architecture, University College London, UK (QS Architecture ranks first in the world), academician and academic member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, academician of the European Academy of Sciences, chairman of the International Society of Acoustics and Vibration, honorary dean of the School of Architecture of Tianjin University, Yangtze River Chair Professor, Jie Qing, Bachelor and Master of Tsinghua University, Doctor of Cambridge University, Humboldt Scholar of Germany. The research field is architecture and environmental acoustics, and the citation rate of the paper ranks first in the world. He presided over more than 90 global engineering designs such as Hong Kong airport subway acoustics and London bridge soundscape. Has won the European Union ERC top. Top Senior Scientist Award, Rayleigh Medal, the highest award of the British Acoustical Society, and many other honors.


At present, climate and environmental change is a topic of concern, and the construction field is the main battlefield of carbon emission reduction. Please talk about your understanding of green and low-carbon buildings. What aspects do you think should be paid attention to in the low-carbon development of buildings?


Kang Jian

Green and low-carbon is a topic of common concern to all walks of life and the whole people, and its importance is self-evident. In order to build a green and low-carbon society, we should not only pay attention to the research and development of new green and low-carbon technologies and the promotion of top-level policies, but also vigorously develop green and low-carbon buildings. More than ten years ago, if we wanted to design a green building, we would take the initiative to consult a specialized green building designer. Now there is no such problem. We default that new buildings must be green buildings. At present, when European and American countries train architects, zero carbon has become the most important concept goal, which is a very big change in the field of architectural design.

Green low-carbon building is not only the application of energy-saving equipment and measures, but also the pre-planning involving more stages and levels to avoid the "green" behavior after the completion of the building. In the early stage of the development of green buildings, people are used to pursuing the "sense of existence" of green elements. With the green concept of the whole life cycle gradually gaining popularity, people begin to realize that many "invisible" measures may be the best green and low-carbon measures.

The concept of green low-carbon science is also very important. When the whole people recognize the concept of green and low-carbon from the heart, this matter has a real endogenous motivation. Starting from young people, starting from small things, the concept of green low-carbon can be put into practice. This is not only the responsibility of educators, but also the responsibility of us professionals.

It is generally felt that the construction industry is no longer hot compared to previous years, which is actually a normal stage of national and industrial development. After rapid development, large-scale demolition and construction, the demand for new buildings in China has tended to be flat, and it is bound to face a decline in the total amount of construction. In 2003, when I returned to China with a delegation of British architects, I made a calculation. At that time, the per capita design area of domestic architects was 96 times that of British architects. In the construction mode of large volume and high speed, the realization of fine design is relatively difficult. The reduction of design tasks provides architects with an opportunity for refined design transformation, which of course also includes green and low-carbon requirements. Therefore, for practitioners, this is both pressure and motivation.



You have been engaged in the research of architectural and environmental acoustics for a long time. Could you please tell us what role acoustics plays in the green, low-carbon and sustainable construction of buildings?


Kang Jian

Acoustics is closely related to the green and low-carbon sustainability of buildings in all aspects. First of all, the process of urban planning involves acoustic considerations. The difference in building arrangement and urban structure directly affects a city's resistance to noise. In general perception, domestic cities are more noisy than European cities. Based on this assumption, we have carried out a comparison test of urban noise between China and Britain: select typical cities in China and Britain, and each city selects a number of typical areas in the range of 500 meters by 500 meters to make regional noise maps. Unexpectedly, according to the noise map, the average noise level of British cities is higher than that of domestic cities. The reason is because of the different urban structure between China and Britain. China's urban traffic mainly relies on major roads and trunk roads, while British urban traffic is dominated by intensive road networks. In China, a few people are disturbed in exchange for the tranquility of the majority of people. The results of this study reflect the important role of acoustic planning in the process of urban construction. There are many cases of building demolition due to inappropriate planning. How can we talk about green and low-carbon?

Urban sound insulation screen is one of the main means of urban noise reduction, it is worth noting that the sound insulation screen of different materials (such as glass, wood, concrete, etc.), the final sound insulation effect difference is not big, but the beauty and energy saving efficiency is very different. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues in green and low-carbon building design to optimize indoor and outdoor acoustic design.

At present, wind power generation is one of the important ways of clean energy application. However, the continuous low-frequency noise brought by wind power generation facilities will lead to a large amount of waste of land resources around. How to optimize the city/village planning and design, make the single building or the community as a whole more resistant to wind power noise, and finally achieve the optimal balance, is a problem worthy of study.

At present, we have invented a series of acoustic materials and products, taking into account the requirements of green, low carbon and sound comfort, such as setting up natural ventilation, lighting and noise reduction windows, etc., to resist the interference of urban and rural noise to life, which has been widely used in Hong Kong and other regions.

At the same time, a large number of "soundscape" related research and practice have been carried out in order to enhance people's living comfort in buildings and cities, and comfortable buildings can be more sustainable.



You just mentioned the concept of "soundscape". Could you please introduce the specific meaning of "soundscape" to us with some project cases?


Kang Jian

Traditional noise control is measured in decibels, and it is believed that as long as the noise level is reduced, people's quality of life can be improved. But this is not the case, the noise reduction may make residents hear some other unpleasant sounds, thankless. For example, during the epidemic, when London was under urban control and no one traveled, the overall noise in the city dropped by 8-10 decibels, yet people's complaints about noise tripled. In 2002, Europe introduced the "noise law", which requires each city to produce noise maps, identify quiet areas and protect them. So, what can be counted as a "quiet area"? Is the area with a relatively low noise level the quiet area that people expect? According to the example I just gave, it is obviously not. Therefore, the introduction of the "noise law", but also promote the "soundscape" related research.

According to our 2014 ISO international soundscape standard, soundscape refers to the perceived sound environment of a person or group of people in a certain context. Different from traditional noise control, soundscape studies the relationship between human, auditory, acoustic environment and society, and its deep logic of "people-oriented" coincides with green and low-carbon design. The pleasant sound environment can not only meet the needs of people's healthy life, but also make the characteristics of a city more obvious and avoid the sound of a thousand cities.

The city of Sheffield in the United Kingdom has carried out an overall transformation of its railway station square and carried out a special soundscape design. As the "steel capital" of Europe, the road network around Sheffield Railway Station Square is complex and noisy, and passengers have no intention of staying in public spaces. After the transformation of the soundscape design, a large stainless steel sound barrier (Sheffield is the place where stainless steel was invented) is installed on the square to separate the pedestrian area from the busy road. At the same time, the running water on the barrier skin brings pleasant water sound to the square in front of the station. Directly facing the entrance of the railway station and separated from the sound barrier by pedestrian ramps, a landscape of stacked water and small fountains is set up. The stacked water is stacked along the terrain to the entrance of the railway station and the square in front of the station respectively, naturally forming an arc-shaped stacked water edge in front of the sunken square and producing a sound similar to a steam train. In front of the railway station entrance, a small fountain is used as a finishing touch. The ingenious layers of water not only remind people of Sheffield's history, but also create a pleasant micro-environment in front of the station by forming a symphony of water through the rich sound of water and masking the noise of the city.

Sheffield Railway Station Front Square

Metal sound insulation screen


Square water feature




As President of the International Society of Acoustics and Vibration, you have contributed significantly to the development and publication of policies and standards related to the engineering environment and noise in Europe. In your opinion, what international practices are worth our reference?



Kang Jian

Over the years, I have participated in the compilation of many standards at home and abroad, and have been trying to integrate the relevant requirements of soundscape into the relevant standards of green and low-carbon buildings. I have also deeply realized the differences between Chinese and foreign standards. Compared with domestic standards, foreign standards pay more attention to the guidance of case, actual operation and process management to ensure the effective implementation of standards. For example, the full text of the British School Building Acoustic Environment Standard is more than 100 pages, of which the provisions are only a few pages, and the rest are almost all cases and design guidelines. At the same time, the actual operation involved in the British standard will also be modified with the progress of technology and the change of construction conditions. For example, for the sound insulation part of the residential standard, because the on-site construction conditions are not exactly the same as the laboratory test, in order to ensure the sound insulation standard under different circumstances, the standard stipulates that the new components must be certified by more than 30 cases before they can enter the market.

In addition to the national standards will provide cases, guide reference, the relevant associations, societies will also publish relevant technical guidelines. For example, in the field of green buildings, the British Construction Institute has organized and carried out systematic case studies and tests on building acousto-optic-thermal and other aspects, and published the process and results as technical guidelines to provide case demonstrations for actual construction.



The International Green Building Alliance, together with relevant production enterprises, design units, construction units, scientific research institutes and well-known universities committed to green development at home and abroad, strives to build an innovation platform for international exchange and cooperation. How do you think the alliance should make full use of its platform advantages to better contribute to the green and low-carbon development of urban and rural areas?


Kang Jian

In order to promote engineering technology exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK, in 2022, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the two countries supported the establishment of the China-UK Engineering Technology Cooperation Steering Committee, which was co-chaired by the Dean of the Chinese and British Academy of Engineering. I have the honor to serve as a British member of the committee. The focus of cooperation between the two sides is to achieve the goal of double carbon and net zero, mainly including offshore wind power, carbon storage, and low-carbon construction. Low-carbon construction is the focus of next year's work, and a series of activities are being organized, including workshops, exchange visits and exchanges. As an excellent platform focusing on green and low-carbon in China, the International Green Building Alliance can play a very important role in it. We also look forward to the active support and participation of the alliance. At the same time, it is suggested that the alliance should strengthen the international cooperation and support training of young scholars, so as to provide a support for the development of green buildings.


Soundscape Improves Life Related Cases

Soundscape "West Street Story"

West Street is located in the heart of the nightlife in Brighton, England, where anti-social behaviors such as pushing and fighting are often involved. The experimenters installed speakers to play music and create a soundscape. This soundscape is in sharp contrast to the original noisy and discordant sounds. After systematic behavior observation, it was found that people's anti-social behavior was significantly reduced, and the police force was also greatly reduced in practice. At the same time, it also uses sound to guide people to walk underground passages instead of crossing the road, effectively reducing the accident rate.


Croatian Sea Air

As one of the world's three famous unmanned organs, the Croatian sea organ is an important part of the project to reshape the coastline of Zadar. It was designed by Nikola Bašić, a famous Croatian designer, and was officially opened to the public after its completion in April 2005. After opening, it is deeply loved by local residents and tourists. While walking by the sea and enjoying the beautiful sunset of the Adriatic Sea, you can also listen to the performance of the sea. Therefore, this huge sea organ also won the European Urban Public Space Award the following year.


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