Why Architects, Designers, And Builders Should Consider Acoustics From Day One

Sounds and noises around us can have a profound impact on everything we do. The music we listen to, the programs we watch, and the work conferences or school classes we attend can be either positively or negatively impacted by sound quality and acoustics. Unfortunately, not all the places we occupy or visit are designed with our experience (or our ears) in mind.

Because sound is generated everywhere, unwanted noise can also be everywhere. And this isn’t just an annoyance, it can change people’s lives. From a child’s ability to process and understand language to how well we manage anxiety, acoustics make an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives—for better or for worse.

architectural acoustics

The Case for Better Architectural Acoustics

In the 1970s, researchers studying noise levels in New York City found that in some buildings the noise from traffic was so loud that it was as if a vacuum cleaner was constantly running. This noise reached rooms as high as the eighth floor. It was so bad that it even inhibited the ability of children on the lower levels to learn!

Jenny Safran, a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin Madison, shared how abnormally noisy environments not only prevented small children from hearing words but prevented them from learning new words. This ultimately impacted a major part of that child’s development.

Consider another critical area of life that’s affected: health. Hospitals should be optimized for rest and recovery, but research shows that noise levels in hospitals are increasing. And this could be affecting patients’ ability to recover. Nighttime noises that are above 55 decibels can affect patients’ ability to sleep and even increase their risk of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, in some facilities, nighttime noises can reach over 100 decibels.

Clearly, products and surfaces that can dampen noise levels can be greatly beneficial in all types of architecture. But, acoustics go much further than controlling noise levels. Think about the last time you were at a restaurant or auditorium. Did the speaker sound clear? Was the music diluted or unpleasant? Some of these details might seem small, but what do people look for in the places they frequent? The places we love tend to have one thing in common: an attractive ambience. Great acoustics create ambience.

vIn a TED Talk titled Why architects need to use their ears, Julian Treasure shared the importance of using our ears when building. The problem is that it’s human nature to start with the eyes. This is understandable because aesthetics are core to good design. But, what we can’t see can contribute just as much to our experience.

Design for experience, not appearance

In many homes designed before the 1990s, you’ll find a lack of ceiling lights in the living room. Why would every other room, from bathrooms to bedrooms, have ceiling lights except for the living room?

This trend was due, in part, to an architectural mindset of how living rooms should be lit. The problem? While this may function and look great in well-designed homes, many of us live in homes that weren’t designed by groundbreaking architects with limitless budgets and are, thus, not lit in a pleasing way.

This leads to a poor experience for homeowners who don’t know how to use light strategically. The result is usually an overly dark room with lighting that won’t work for anything other than watching a movie or having a conversation. In short, designing for appearance can lead you to ignore the other factors that contribute to an experience.

To better understand the importance of designing for experience, think of a business owner. What do they want from their office space? Of course they want it to look great. But employee productivity and satisfaction rank pretty high up there as well. It’s scientifically proven that sound can hurt employee productivity. In fact, 70% of global employees say that office noise hurts them during the workday. The math is simple: higher productivity equals higher revenue. So, why are so many offices poorly designed?

The answer is two-fold. Many don’t have the resources to build their own office and therefore are stuck with whatever is available and affordable. However, for builders, the downfall may lie in their understanding of how acoustics work.

If you need acoustical consultants for your next building projects, contact us at Acoustica Projects now!

Call us 1300 498 268

Email us – enquires@acousticaprojects.com.au

Website – https://acousticaprojects.com.au/