Architectural acoustics: what is noise transfer?

When it comes to architectural acoustics, one of the key issues and concerns is the issue of noise transfer. Whether sound is coming in from the outside, or adjacent rooms or floors, noise can travel through buildings easier than you first might realise.

As we covered in our previous blog, noise can travel through the air (airborne transfer) or solids (mechanical/vibrational transfer).

With both of these sound pathways, finding the source of the problem and reducing its impact is the first step to making an environment a happier and healthier place to live or work in.

In this article, we will give an overview of noise transfer in architecture and how to overcome it through acoustic design.

What is noise transfer in architectural acoustics?

In any architectural space, acoustics play a big role. From homes to offices, music venues to cathedrals, if you can hear sound, you must consider its acoustics.

For architects and designers, every aspect that is specified and designed can impact the acoustics, ranging from the windows, doors, HVAC system, walls, ceilings, floors, steel structure, pipes and more.

Other influences on architectural acoustics include the shape and size of the building and its rooms, the sound absorption rate of the building materials, and the volume of sound generated within or outside the building.

With any space, controlling acoustic levels to one which is appropriate and comfortable means managing noise transfer, including noise originating from the outside environment or from inside the building.

The solution to noise transfer depends on the source, the noise type, and the path of transmission.

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How should architects approach noise transfer

The transmission of noise through a building can be interrupted at its source, as well as anywhere along its path. Using acoustic treatment such as soundproofing or sound insulation absorbs and deadens sound waves in its tracks.

It’s also important to consider noise pollution, as external noise can be incredibly impactful on a space’s acoustics. With this issue, as there is little opportunity to stop the noise at its source, it is important to control and manage the pathway the sound travels into and around the building.

When it comes to noise transfer, architects should remember that anywhere air can travel, sound can too. This means open-plan spaces and large entryways are often culprits of high levels of noise transmission.

When designing buildings, considering this in the planning stages will allow critical areas of a building where quiet is needed to be just that, quiet!

In the same vein, blocking off or insulating any areas where air can travel, such as through piped air ducts or gaps in-between spaces (partition walls), will help minimise noise transfer as much as possible.

For architects, effectively controlling noise transfer in a building can be achieved easily with the help of acoustic consultants. Considering architectural acoustics at the beginning of a project also means building specifications can be factored in from the beginning, assessing their impact on the overall acoustic quality of a finished development.

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Conclusion

Noise transfer is a key issue that many buildings face, especially if they haven’t been designed with acoustics in mind. Designing a space that is comfortable and undisturbed effortlessly improves the quality of life for tenants and building owners.

If you are an architect or developer looking to achieve an improved acoustic environment in your next building project, then turning to Sound Zero for guidance and collaboration is the perfect option.

Our team of acoustic consultants is available to discuss your architectural acoustics needs to ensure you select the right acoustic treatment for the space you are working on. We have a range of products that can be completely customised to your colour, size, fabric, and other product requests.

Please do not hesitate to contact us today to go over our bespoke design-led acoustic solutions that can transform your architectural projects.

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