Sound considerations such as soundproofing, sound transmission, sound isolations, and acoustic treatments are important in many industrial and business-centric spaces. We see soundproofing measures in hospitals, doctor’s offices, commercial work-spaces, and even warehouses.
Construction has always been a big advocate for change. Today’s work environment is open and airy. It contains multiple types of work surfaces and is often very dense. Many contractors, designers, and owners are excited to create chic, bustling environments. One (1) of the most emerging items we are trying to solve is balancing acoustics.
Privacy and focus are hard to maintain when noise is adding unnecessary distractions and seeping through your walls or open spaces. According to Scientific American, ambient sounds can increase stress levels and further aggravating stress-related health issues.
Acoustic Design in Architecture
Sound distractions are difficult, but there are ways to control the sound in new spaces or renovations. Some are more difficult than others and vary based on environmental factors. However, acoustic considerations don’t need to compromise the design of a building. In fact, they can enhance it.
Consideration of acoustics in a space early in the design process is key. There are a variety of materials, tools, and design techniques that can enhance a design instead of compromising it.
This is one of the most common techniques in sound control. Absorption materials provide a way to dampen unwanted noises and prevent sound from carrying. Common absorption methods include the use of fiberglass insulation, carpet, wall coverings, acoustic blocks or wall panels, and ceiling tiles. In new builds, we can even design the decking to be perforated with acoustic blocks. Absorption can be achieved through art, flooring, and much more. It can be simple, colorful, and enhance the overall aesthetic of a space.
Reflection and Reverberation
When you think of sound and reflection, you might think of SONAR, a mirror, or certain animals in the ocean. Sound reflection and reverberation is the noise that is returned from the surface it acted upon. In general, the harder the surface, the more return you will receive.
In a large open space like a conference room, multipurpose space, or even a warehouse, reflective surfaces and sounds can be a major issue. Design features and specialty materials can help reduce noise reflections such as absorbing materials or diffusion approaches. The best solution likely occurs at the ceiling and in-wall assemblies. It might include baffles with fabric and other unique textures, acoustic ceiling tiles, wall panels, wall covering, and much more. It will often be a blend of multiple solutions.
In architecture, diffusion is the spreading of sound evenly across a space. Sound diffusers disperse sounds around a room. Properly done, a diffusive space is one in which the reverberation time is the same from any position in the room.
Sound Masking & White Noise
The basic idea of sound masking and white noise is to create noise that blurs or hides other noises. These processes have evolved over the past two (2) decades, but groups are able to hide noise with other noise through strategically-placed speakers. The noise is calibrated and balanced based on the space. Sound masking is considered a superior and prevailing system, but also comes with the most expenses.
While acoustics might not be the first thing on your mind as you begin to envision your new space, it should be considered. Many people do not anticipate the sound quality in a space until the building is occupied, sometimes leaving costly or minimal solutions.
It is often easier to introduce sound controls and considerations during the design process but not all materials need to be introduced during construction. There are many solutions that can be utilized at any time and do not require major construction or renovation.
If you are beginning a new project or are worried about sound in your space, contact the design solution experts at BCI Construction.