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Design Thinking | May 2022

Architectural Acoustics

4 Ideas for Improving Architectural Acoustics: From Design to Decorating

The sounds around you impact your day, and they play an essential role in your health. From influencing productivity to managing stress, acoustics matter. According to one study, 65% of employees reported that excessive noise impacts their ability to work. However, it isn’t only construction equipment or heavy machinery causing issues. Ringing phones, loud conversations, and other blaring noises can be detrimental. And in areas like schools and stores, controlling sound is essential to overall performance and sales. 

There is little that can be done to alter a structure or change building materials. Still, there are several opportunities to maximize the architectural acoustics of any space, from a floor of cubicles to an open plan. Here’s a brief lesson on the importance of your architectural acoustics. And four simple ideas to improve the acoustics in an office or commercial setting.

What Are Architectural Acoustics?

Architectural acoustics refers to how the construction and design of a building influence the sound within it. Professionals will consider architectural acoustics when designing floor plans and room layouts. In some structures, architectural acoustics are at the core of the building’s design.

Not all facets of architectural acoustics involve the framework of a building. Other important factors include:

  • Material choice (soft materials will absorb more sound).
  • Room layout (extra furniture will impact sound transmission).
  • Positioning of extraneous items (such as fans, printers, or other noise-making devices).

In short, architectural acoustics focus on maximizing the sound health of your space. Not everyone can alter the existing construction of their space, but most can take control of their sound.

How Can Managing Acoustics Improve an Interior?

Sound management in the workplace leads to happier, more productive employees. Life isn’t always measured in productivity, though. As it stands, controlling the sound of a space has a significant impact on one’s mental health.

Quiet areas are better for mental health. According to a survey of over 250 companies, nearly half of all respondents said that a quiet place would help ease work-related mental health issues. Good acoustic control can also:

  • Decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Help with concentration and productivity.
  • Improve communication and hearing.  

As sound control has grown as a field, companies have risen to meet the challenge. Maximizing acoustic control and personalizing a room can be done in conjunction. Acoustic solutions such as acoustic lighting and acoustic furniture combine functionality and soundproofing. Highly useful in an office setting, businesses can use acoustic baffles, acoustic whiteboards, and even soundproofing partitions to achieve their needs.  

Managing the acoustics of a room or building is a wise and healthy decision. Not doing so disrupts your life, even if you don’t realize it. Sound control will help maximize the use of each room and your health.

Common Techniques to Control Acoustics

Now that you know why acoustic control is essential, here’s how you can step up your acoustic game.

1. Know the difference between insulation and absorption.

There is a major difference between insulation and absorption. Understanding that difference may save plenty of headaches for people. Insulation refers to sound being blocked or absorbed between rooms. Sound absorption reduces reverberation and excess noise within the room in question. Offices also benefit from sound insulation. Insulation efforts, including HVAC insulation, will help keep out unwanted background noise pollution. This knowledge is essential if you’re on a call or frequently in meetings.

2. Avoid materials with high reverberation.

Material properties play an important role in architectural acoustics. We’ve already mentioned that soft materials will absorb more sound energy. The opposite is true, as well. Hard surfaces are excellent at reflecting sound; this is known as reverberation. For example, smooth concrete reflects 98% of sound. An unfinished concrete basement can become an echo chamber. Reducing reverberation keeps the room’s sounds clear, leading to a peaceful environment.

3. Use furniture to deaden sounds.

Likewise, you can also ensure the room in question has achieved its desired sound absorbency. Furniture is a great first step. Large, soft objects like curtains and couches can absorb loud sounds. Use acoustic furniture where possible. In an open plan, strategic chairs and wall hangings can help cut down reverberation and drifting conversations. 

4. Consider acoustic lights.

Acoustic lights are a great way to conquer consistent sound issues. These provide comfortable illumination while adding acoustic material to a room. This helps to capture and dampen sound waves. They are cost-effective and creative means to adapt any room to a needed acoustic setting. And, they make great use of limited and odd-shaped space. Acoustic lights are available in various shapes, designs, and styles. Many are also designed with form and function in mind. Complete with LEDs and patterned surfaces, these products seek to enhance the visual and auditory environment of a location. Plus, they are available in many colors and shapes to fit your style. 

Luxxbox Dasch acoustic light pendant, New York office designed by MMosser

Final Thoughts

Architectural acoustics play an important role in our daily lives. Sound control can help improve our mental and physical health. In the workplace, a productive environment is one with well-managed sound. Acoustic control involves the proper use of materials and sound-absorbing items. Acoustic lighting and acoustic furniture not only add a decorative element to the space but also reduce reverberation and keep the environment at a comfortable decibel level. Don’t discount the importance of an acoustically-balanced area. Humans need peaceful settings to achieve optimum efficiency.  

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