Friday, March 01, 2013


Disappeared News Believe it or Not: There was actually an international competition on designing noise barriers

by Larry Geller

Would you believe that there was an “Open International Competition for Noise Barrier/Enclosure?” I stumbled upon it while googling for yesterday’s article on Honolulu’s abysmal road maintenance.

We in Hawaii are so deprived! We don’t have noise barriers to my knowledge. We can’t even imagine noise barriers protecting us from the sound pollution of the H-1 and other highways. It’s as though we were an island, far away from civilization or something.

noise barrierThe page that I hit described a second-prize winner in the Hong Kong competition. It was an architectural firm named Bread Studio.

I don’t know if their design will ever be used, but it’s very innovative. It uses recycled materials, incorporates natural foliage as well, and generates electricity from the wind and automobile turbulence. How green can one get? They call their entry the “Forrest Corridor.” It also allows visibility from the road, which many designs do not. Here’s what the architects wrote about that:

View of the drivers: The use of climbers creates a more transparent greening effect on the barrier. The drivers could still have view thought the barrier to the surroundings. Compared to solid greening panel or merely transparent panels, this approach reduces the feeling of being inside a confined tunnel.

Of course, I am writing about this because I feel we can and should demand more of our state and local governments in Hawaii. Do they even know about noise barriers or noise-reducing pavement materials? Are they keeping it a secret, if they know, or do they just not care?

A recent Associated Press article by local reporter Audrey McAvoy, Hawaii government technology stuck in time warp (SF Chronicle (AP), 2/27/2013) revealed to the world how backward we are in information technology. That’s only part of it. It seems there are technologies out there we haven’t even dreamed of.

Please have your barf bag ready the next time DBEDT describes Hawaii as becoming the high-tech center of the Pacific Rim. If that’s our aspiration, we could start by learning the basic technology for maintaining streets and roads and work our way up from there.


Before we move on to cutting edge noise barriers could we first get a good handle on how to fill a pothole so that it stays fixed?

I agree with you. First we need to master the low-tech. Like filling potholes.


The rail system will be using sound barriers where the route is near residential areas. Nowhere near as large as the Hong Kong barriers though.

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