Architectural Acoustics

Architectural acoustics deals with the sound and its reactions within a confined space or in other names room acoustics. The goal is to assure that the acoustical environment in building is suitable for the use of the space. This includes room acoustics appropriate for speech, music, or control of noise as appropriate, speech clarity or privacy as appropriate, noise isolation and or mechanical systems noise control. Some applications in the field are auditoria, theaters, shopping malls, schools, music suites, offices, call-centers, classrooms, training spaces, lecture halls, conference rooms, dining spaces (restaurants, cafeteria), clean rooms, and hospitals. In fact, concert hall acoustics is occasionally referred to as the "Rolls Royce" of architectural acoustics because of the complexity and high quality of acoustics required along with very high aesthetic quality.


In this field, the acoustic consultant analyzes the space to understand and modify its reaction to variety of amplified and natural sound activities like music and speech. This can involve control of noise from external sources outside of the space, such as traffic and machinery; and also involve control of noise from internal sources, in the room, such as mechanical ventilation and air conditioning (MVAC) equipment and plumbing systems. This also includes noise isolation performance of interior partitions of enclosed spaces and privacy concerns.



Possible problems or concerns with the room, such as shape and volume of room, based on the desired activities, the particular kind of undesirable sound sources and concerns are identified. Based on these analyses, recommendations and possible options are identified for the space. The selection of acoustical material for passive acoustic treatment is based on the merit and economic viability of the products only. The basic room acoustics analysis for most rooms consists of evaluating reverberation time (measure of the persistence of stopped sound in a room, i.e. echo levels), considering expected noise levels and looking for good or bad initial reflections.


The firm strongly believe that it is in the best interests of the clients to investigate all potential problems in a building fully. A room with good acoustical treatment can be unusable if there is noise heard from an adjacent room, a noisy air conditioning system in the room, or a poorly designed sound reinforcement system used in the space.


Over the past few years, as a part of acoustical consultancy services, the firm looks into the design of the sound and visual reinforcement systems for larger spaces such as auditoria and presentation spaces to help the clients and end users achieve a better designed and optimized solution in term of acoustics and audio video system for the space.


In an ideal scenario, the acoustic consultant will work with the interior designer, right after concept design finalization to assist on the layout finalization to minimize privacy issues and noise control issues with adjacent mechanical systems. Based on the desired aesthetic intent, proposed by the interior designer for the space, the acoustic consultant will provide options or alternatives to meet the acoustical functional requirements of the end users. This will allow the end user to take informed decisions with regards to the selection of acoustical treatment for the space based on the desired aesthetics and acoustical performance even during value engineering process. Then the interior designer can incorporate the finalized option into the interiors bill of quantities for the tendering process. This will help reduce the time and cost involving changes if required later, which is beneficial to the project.


Architectural acoustics involves assuring that the acoustical environment in building is suitable for the use of the space. This includes room acoustics appropriate for speech, music or control of noise as appropriate, speech clarity or privacy as appropriate, sound isolation, mechanical systems noise control and sound systems. Room acoustics includes control of reverberation, loudness and initial reflections of sound. Such initial reflections can be helpful or harmful depending on the time delay between the direct and reflected sound. Mathew, during his short tenure, in the United States of America, for Stewart Acoustical Consultants, has helped develop solutions for over one hundred architectural acoustical projects. In India, he has provided consultancy services in over one hundred and fifty projects in the past seven years.


The firm strongly believe that it is in the best interests of the clients to investigate all potential problems in a building fully. A room with excellent room acoustics can be unusable if there is noise from an adjacent space, or from a noisy mechanical system or the poor design and or installation of the respective sound system. However, the firm can and will sometimes work only on a limited part of a new design project. The firm also can assist owners of existing buildings, who have problems. The firm does not seek work solely involving the design of sound systems. When a sound system is required as part of a larger project, it is recommended to employ other independent consultants in audio systems designs.


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