When designing or refurbishing a room for an office, the aesthetics are not the only thing that you have to consider. Architectural acoustics is the science and engineering of achieving good sounds within a building and is one of the fundamentals that need to be brought to attention. There are many different reasons as to why acoustics are important, based on your specifications. For example, you will want a room to echo more and have the sound reach the whole space, if in a concert hall and when it comes to your home or office, you will look at suppressing the noise to ensure comfort and productivity.
With one of the most common complaints in the workplace being noise pollution, it is essential for you to deal with the situation to enable a more efficient workspace. Having a large population of people within close proximity, it can cause a lot of annoyance and will consequently stop those from working efficiently.
What Happens to Sound Energy?
There are three different things that happen to incoming sound energy, these include:
- Reflection – harder surfaces such as glass, concrete or wood act as a sort of mirror and the sounds bounce off them because they are not as porous.
- Absorption – this is when the sound wave propagates through a more porous material where it is turned into heat due to friction.
- Scattering – the sound wave is reflected in an unordered way.
The Lombard Effect
Without the correct acoustics for your property, it can cause implications that may actually make a big difference in the long run when it comes to work efficiency. As humans, we have the natural tendency to increase our vocals when speaking in a loud environment; this is called the ‘Lombard Effect’. This is not just loudness of your voice, but also through other features such as pitch, rate and duration of the syllables when you talk. Lombard speech makes the environment even louder and so it will make it even more difficult to focus on your work duties, when inside the workplace.
It is important to be able to control the acoustics in a room. A good room for an office or workplace would be one which absorbs more sounds so that the office isn’t too loud. This means that it will suppress noise from conversations, outdoor noise, intermittent speech and music. Controlling this type of noise pollution will help to ensure the optimum working efficiency. Having good acoustics will help to control these three different types of noise pollution:
- Environmental – noise from transportation
- Neighbour – noise from the inside and buildings outside
- Neighbourhood – noise from industrial or commercial premises, businesses, construction sites and noise in the street.
There are many different solutions to improving the acoustics in your buildings. One of the increasingly popular solutions are the acoustic panels. These are made from materials which absorb sound energy, such as PET or mineral wool covered in a porous fabric. They are designed to encapsulate the sound waves and control the reverberations. These are a great solution for the workplace as it reduces background noise, by absorbing it. The sound waves get absorbed and convert the waves into vibrations, creating a small amount of heat. There are many benefits when it comes to acoustic panels, such as:
- Improving the soundscape and enabling better communication – they absorb unwanted noise and make other sounds clearer, making it easier to communicate in a larger room.
- Reducing the levels of stress – noise makes it harder to concentrate and to hear what others are saying and subsequently increasing stress levels.
- Improving productivity – less background noise means that you can concentrate more on what you are doing and be more productive.
- Providing privacy – acoustic panels can muffle sounds, making it difficult for those to hear your private conversations.
- Improving safety – less background noise will mean that staff can inform others of any hazards and avoid accidents.