Buitenschot Land Art Park – Hoofddorp, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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Hoofddorp, Netherlands

Buitenschot Land Art Park

An ingenious Dutch land art project uses grass ridges to cut airport noise pollution in half. 

It’s always a pain to live next to an airport, but the problem is amplified when you live in the Netherlands, a country that is as flat as a stroopwafel. When a fifth runway was added to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in 2003, the local populous decided that enough was enough and demanded that the city did something to fix its noise pollution.

The tricky thing about dampening airport noise is that the noise is a very low frequency with a very long wavelength, around 36 feet, so a simple barricade will do little to stop the drone. But in 2008, airport staff noticed that noise levels were reduced every fall by an unsuspecting phenomenon: plowed fields. After examining the scene, they discovered that the ridges and furrows of the field were spaced in a way that they partially silenced the hum.

So, the firm H+N+S Landscape Architects teamed up with artist Paul De Kort to produce a series of 150 artificial pyramids of grass, each 6 feet tall and 36 feet apart (the approximate wavelength of airport hubbub). This ingenious method, based on the groundbreaking work of acoustician Ernst Chladni, has effectively reduced noise pollution in the region by half.

To the amusement of the people in the area, the 80-acre swath of ridges adds entertainment to utility. Paths for pedestrians and bicycles slice between the grass ridges, and De Kort has even incorporated works of art into the park, including “Listening Ear,” a dish with a gap in the middle that amplifies sound, and “Chladni-Pond,” a diamond-shaped pond where park guests can power a wave mechanism with their feet.