Architectural (or building) acoustics is an important part of architecture and building design as focusing on the acoustic properties of a space allows you to understand and improve aspects of it, such as speech intelligibility, high levels of reverberation and unnecessary noise transmission.
As acoustic consultants, we see a lot of clients who underestimate the importance of good acoustic design in architecture and construction and often hold misconceptions about it.
We want to share our knowledge with architects and developers and improve the current philosophy that acoustics is only an afterthought. Considering the acoustic needs of a building at the start of the planning and design process can help save projects time and money.
In this article, we will run through the top misconceptions we see when we talk to architects, why they aren’t the case, and how you can overcome them.
Building acoustics can’t be controlled
Although, as you can’t see sound, it’s hard to visualise how it is travelling through a room, or reverberating, you can control acoustics.
Computer modelling is so advanced nowadays that you can predict room acoustics for even the most complex and largest of spaces.
Auralisation of rooms is a way to simulate how acoustics will work in a space, allowing designers and end-users to get a better understanding of it.
Combined with the trained ear of an acoustic consultant, acoustics can be engineered however which way an architect or developer desires, improving the space for all those who work or live in it.
Effective sound treatment just means dotting acoustic products around
Although you may look at a room that has utilised acoustic treatment and assume that it has just been dotted around, acoustic design doesn’t work like that.
Contrary to popular belief, the goal of acoustical consulting is not to just add as many acoustic panels as you can to the walls and fill the ceiling with baffles. Instead, we use accurate computer modelling and design, while meeting criteria for reverberation time, noise isolation, frequency response, background noise level, and more.
Hitting the targets for these takes in-depth understanding and precision, working around all the soft and hard furniture of a room, and counteracting how they add or subtract to the room’s sound.
Improving the acoustics in a space is always expensive
When architectural acoustics are planned into a project, good acoustic design doesn’t always have to be unaffordable and can quite easily fit within a well-managed budget. Quite often architects or designers fail to see beyond the acoustic products currently on the market online or on display to them. Which is sometimes counterintuitive to a project where a more bespoke solution is required.
By simply approaching acoustic designers such as ourselves, architects can find themselves presented with a whole scope of affordable acoustic solutions for their projects which not only look in keeping with their current designs but also are far more effective than off the shelf products designed for a broad-strokes approach to a problem which often requires a precise, multi-faceted system.
Acoustic treatment, we also should note, doesn’t even have to be professional, DIY can also work in certain circumstances. Once a noise issue has been diagnosed, improvements can be attempted in all manner of ways, including cost-effective options such as carpets, plants, ambient noise, and other physical office reconfigurations.
It shall be said however, If improvements are attempted without fully understanding the cause of the problem, it can end up becoming more troublesome and expensive. In the case where you can’t detect exactly why a room’s acoustics are off, getting an acoustic consultant involved will always save you time and money when it comes to finding a solution that works.
When it comes to acoustic treatment, identify the cause of your issue so that you can effectively diagnose a solution!
Acoustic treatment has to be hidden
We often hear from architects that they want to hide any acoustic products they use, such as wall panels or ceiling baffles, and there are ways to do this. Examples include hiding baffles through colour matching them to ceiling tiles, or specifying wall panels which match the wall design.
However, at Sound Zero, we are all about beautifully designed acoustics. Acoustic treatment offers designers and architects such a unique opportunity, to combine scientific points of fascination with a stunning talking point!
Why hide something that is working so hard when it could just as easily speak volumes about the physicality of the space in which it inhabits and the architect’s attention to how the human element has been considered in the design of the building. Acoustic treatment can be a beautiful and highly visual element that you intentionally add to your space, something inspiring or showy, but definitely not ugly.
You can take a look at some of our design-led and eye-catching solutions in our case study section.
We come across many myths and misconceptions surrounding acoustic design, so we hope this article has dispelled some falsely held beliefs. If you are interested in learning more about how building acoustics work and how architects can understand the science of sound, then check out our blog series on architectural acoustics.
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.