Schiphol Airport Sound Barrier

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Project Type


The “’Levende Dam”, or “Living Dam”, repels the sound waves from jet engines in the same way as a traditional dam protects the land against the rising water. Historically, the dam and the dike are the keys to the Netherlands. They take care of the taming of the water, which gives the country safety against storm tides and river floods and which gives the polder land value behind it.

The Soundproofing was originally deeply rooted in the typical Dutch landscape derived from dikes, dams and agricultural patterns. Imagine that we can use the typology of the dam and the polder to interpret the landscape as a new method to tame the sound waves at the airport. This extraordinary legacy of the Dutch landscape, even living in the name of Amsterdam (the Dam on the river Amstel) will find expression in concept, cross-section, and plan, in the ~ 20m high sound barrier Living Dam.

The zigzag shape of the dam seen from the air is derived from a certain part of the River Amstel close to the airport south of the city of Amsterdam. The form could also be interpreted freely as a ‘break’ in the sound, an abstraction of sound. The crown of the dam is worked out in a very interesting pattern of solar cell, sound-absorbing and glass panels that shows a building that sparkles during the day and emits soft light at night.