How important are acoustics in architecture?

Just how important are acoustics in architecture?

You’ve got the layout, the light considerations and the materials you’ll be using. Everything in your architectural design is going to be perfect… right?

Wrong! 

“We are seldom aware of how much we can hear. We receive a total impression of the thing we are looking at and give no thought to the various senses that have contributed to that impression.“  (Steen Eiler Rasmussen)

One of the most overlooked areas of architectural design is acoustics: how sound is reflected, scattered and absorbed in the areas around us. For the naked eye (or ear) good room acoustics are seldom noticeable and are often only consulted when acoustics serve the primary function, such as in a concert hall or arena. 

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But we can all relate to an overly noisy restaurant where you struggle to hear what the person opposite you is saying, where you’re straining to hear every other word. Eureka, you’ve identified acoustics!

What is becoming increasingly apparent in studies and experiences is that room acoustics should be used in the same way as light and material to be a tool of the architect to design the atmosphere of spaces, yet the majority of architects don’t know what they are or how to implement acoustics into their design.

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Architectural acoustics don’t affect the every day… do they?

Whether you’re looking at public facilities or your own home and workspace, acoustics have direct effects, wherever we are.

Acoustics directly affect patients and their carers in hospitals and wards, such as:

  • Sudden noises can set off startle reflexes, leading to injury, increased blood pressure and higher respiratory rates.
  • Prolonged background noise can contribute to memory problems.
  • Reduced noise levels in ICU have been found to promote better sleep and healing.
  • Noise at all hours can lead to sleep deprivation which has been tied to longer recovery, dementia, higher re-hospitalisation and worse medical outcomes.
  • With the need for patient confidentiality, speech privacy is essential, and this is reflected in the room acoustics.
  • If there is loud background noise speech intelligibility is limited, which, in some cases, can be the difference between life and death. 

Alongside the detrimental importance of acoustics in hospitals, educational facilities like schools and universities are hugely impacted by the way that sound travels around them. Learning is intrinsically linked with communication, being able to actually hear what the teacher is saying, and concentration, with any external noise being a major distracting factor. 

Studies found that children miss 25% of the words spoken by their teacher as a consequence of a noisy classroom. That’s one quarter of their learning lost because of acoustics in architecture! Still not convinced of their importance?

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Room acoustics affect us on a daily basis[RN2] 

Acoustics effect everyone on a daily basis, from homeowners to office workers, students to hospital patients, but don’t just listen to us, let the facts speak for themselves! With every element of a building’s construction contributing to its acoustical characteristics, their importance is gradually beginning to be recognised by wider legislative bodies.

In 2018 the World Health Organisation updated its environmental noise guidelines for the first time since 1999, publishing data demonstrating that improving indoor environmental quality results in a substantial benefit for occupants. Environmental noise such as traffic and railways has been found to have severe health complications ranging from decreasing energy levels and tinnitus to cognitive impairment and heart disease. Something that is so often forgotten in projects can have the vastest implications.

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With increasing awareness comes an increasing demand, and we are here to help. 

At Sound Zero we offer a comprehensive range of soundproofing and acoustic solutions for offices, music studios, residential and commercial buildings, providing complete noise control solutions for any environment. 

We’ve explained to you the importance of acoustics in architecture. Now we will help you to identify the problem areas and offer a comprehensive range of acoustic solutions for noise reduction, sound proofing and sound treatment. Having the right acoustics for your building doesn’t have to come with sacrificing the aesthetics you always dreamed of, functionality can come with style too.

Why not contact us here to find out more. 

Speak to us about improving your acoustic environment

If you’d like to talk to one of our experts, either give us a call on 020 3984 2000, email us info@sound-zero.com or fill out the form and we'll get back to you ASAP.