2020 in retrospective

2020 has been an unparalleled year, plenty with grief, desperation, isolation due to the worldwide outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that it is coming at an end, we believe that it is important to look at it in retrospective and acknowledge the positive things that happened, despite the unprecedented challenges.
In so doing, we would like to acknowledge the beauty of life and thank all of the friends, colleagues, Hush City Ambassadors and users, who supported us along the way, and contributed to make these achievements possible.

Happy, quiet reading!

Hush City for Limerick

Limerick was awarded the title of European Green Leaf City 2020 in recognition of the city’s commitment to better environmental outcomes, and, in January the Municipality of Limerick officially launched the adoption of Hush City app for involving citizens in the creation of the new Limerick Plan of Quiet Areas. However, soundwalks and public events, which were planned to occur in Spring/Summer 2020, were to be canceled due to the pandemic. As a replacement of these activities, on October, 12th 2020, Antonella was invited to present the webinar “Looking for a Quiet Life?” along with Dr Simon Jennings from Limerick City and County Council. The aim of the webinar was twofold:

  • explore the importance of having access to tranquil spaces for your physical and mental well being;
  • invite people, particularly in Limerick, to become citizen scientists and use the Hush City App to tell us about quiet places where they find a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Watch the recording here.

Sustainability and Urban Renewal
In the Summer Semester, Antonella designed and led the seminar “Sustainability and Urban Renewal”, within the context of the Study Program, offered by TU Berlin Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. The aim of this seminar was to critically reflect on the current debate on Sustainable Cities, by looking at the interface of policy-practice, so to assess how sustainability policies have been implemented through urban renewal projects. Berlin was taken as a case study city and the UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 3 Good Health and Well-Being and no. 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities as a reference. The seminar’s content was organized around four themes i.e. urban noise and quiet areas; nature and the city; artificial light and the urban night; and walkable cities. The seminar ran on a combination of online group lessons and individual fieldwork activities. The students were encouraged to use the neighbourhoods where they live as case studies for the development of the individual fieldwork exercises. This activity was particularly appreciated by the students and helped them with dealing with the constraints caused by the lockdown.
Syllabus and evaluations are available here.

Smells, Well-Being and the Build Environment
Since June, Drs. Jieling Xiao, Francesco Aletta and Antonella have been curating the Research Topic “Smells, Well-being, and the Built Environment” for the Journal Frontiers in Psychology. The aim of the Research Topic is to collect a body of work to understand the emotional and wellbeing responses resulted from smells in different public spaces to inform future spatial design and management.
Call for papers is open and available here. Manuscript submission is due by April 30 2021.

Is Berlin a Swim City? Reflections on a walk along the Spree River in Berlin
In July, the article “Berlino Swim City? Riflessioni in cammino lungo la Sprea a Berlino” (“Is Berlin a Swim City? Reflections on a walk along the Spree River in Berlin”) written by Antonella was published in EcoWebTown. Journal of Sustainable Design. The article addresses the contemporary disciplinary debate on the creation of river baths and the restoration of bathing activities as a means of regaining rivers and improving the quality of urban life, by looking at the treatment of the Spree River in Berlin, through the description of three projects: the Spreeweg, the Flussbad Berlin and the Spree2011/WITE.
An English version of the abstract is available here. The article in Italian is open access here.

In August, in parallel to her appointment at TU Berlin, Antonella started a new appointment at Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, as a research associate and scientific project manager of the EU-Citizen.Science project. The EU-Citizen.Science project is an Horizon2020-funded project, which consists in “an online platform for sharing knowledge, tools, training and resources for citizen science”. “The vision for the platform is to aid in the mainstreaming of citizen science, and build on the growing impact of citizens participating in research across the full range of scientific enquiry, by supporting the sharing of knowledge, know-how, and experience between anyone doing or wanting to do citizen science”.
Watch the project teaser here. Explore the platform here.

Sound and the Healthy City
in October, the Leading Editorial of the special issue “Sound and the Healthy City” was published online. The text is written by Antonella along with the editorial team of the special issue. The paper serves as an introduction to soundscape and health from several distinct disciplinary positions and lays a good intellectual foundation for the twenty-two papers published (online) in this special issue. We hope that through a soundscape approach we can encourage fresh thinking about urban sound, including how people perceive and relate to their sonic environments, and show how sound can contribute to health. We believe that this approach can provide a collaborative platform for sound artists, sound technologists, urbanists and local people to work together with public health and create healthier urban environments.
The Leading Editorial is open access here. Publication of the special issue was delayed and it is forthcoming in 2021.

Hush City Soundwalks
In Autumn, despite the lockdown, Hush City Soundwalks continued to take place thanks to the commitment of Hush City Ambassador and colleague Prof. Rosa Maria Alsina.
Rosa and her team led two Hush City Soundwalks for Acusti.cat 2020 in Sant Cugat and for the Science Week in the Superblock of Sant Antoni in Barcelona.
What the teaser of the Hush City Soundwalk in Sant Cugat here.

Is Berlin a Walkable City?
For the Winter Semester, Antonella designed and has been leading the Auftragsprojekt “Is Berlin a Walkable City?”, within the context of the Study Program, offered by TU Berlin Institute of Urban and Regional Planning. In Berlin, such as in Paris, Barcelona, Oslo, Vienna and other European cities, soft mobility is gaining momentum. Specifically, the Municipality of Berlin has taken action to create pedestrian-friendly environments by implementing a planning strategy grounded on 4 Pillars. Against this backdrop, the aim of this project-studio is to address the research question “Is Berlin a Walkable City?”, by means of analyses of case studies proposed by the Municipality of Berlin, who act as Project Partner. For the investigation, the students were invited to select the case studies they would like to investigate among the options proposed, and identify the research methods. They organised themselves in small working groups, and are expected to manage the workflow and elucidate the results of their study work in the final outputs of the project, with the support of the instructor.
Syllabus is available here.

Hush City video at the 3rd CEDD
In December, Hush City was shortlisted and showcased at the 3rd Annual Citizen Engagement and Deliberative Democracy Festival organised online by the European Commission, Joint Research Center, 6-12 December 2020. Video making is courtesy of Limerick City & County Council, Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
Watch the video here.

Press Coverage 2020
Journalists continued showing interest in Hush City throughout 2020. We are grateful to them for the amazing articles they wrote e.g. for WIRED; BBC Future, NewCities, CityLab, and for their support in disseminating Hush City.
Press coverage can be accessed here.

Last but not least, we would like to thank you, the reader, for your attention. We are planning changes in communication and social media management and we do hope you will enjoy them.

Meanwhile, very best wishes for a brighter and healthier 2021!

See you next year,
The Hush City Team