Large Spaces & Acoustic Comfort

With the return to work and school and the resumption of all related activities, September is a good month to address the issue of acoustic comfort in large public spaces.

Characterised by large volumes and the use of reflective materials and surfaces, public and private buildings often have deficiencies in terms of acoustics. But, while in some places good room acoustics is fundamentally linked to the well-being of users, in spaces such as production facilities, offices and schools it is an essential factor because, in addition to health, the acoustic performance of a building has a decisive impact on productivity, learning and performance.

Fatigue and lack of concentration are often a consequence of environments that are too reverberant: the noise of various sound sources within large enclosed spaces adds up and amplifies due to multiple reflections generated by all surfaces (reverberation).

There are two interventions to correct and improve the acoustics in these cases: the first is carried out by applying lightweight, porous sound-absorbing elements (panels) on the reflective surfaces (walls and ceilings) that attenuate reverberation.

The second intervention consists of placing three-dimensional elements (baffles, prisms, etc.) at certain heights, suspended so as to interrupt and redirect (diffract) the moving sound waves.

The acoustic profile of a room should be determined at the design stage by carefully choosing materials and their placement, together with the arrangement of spaces and volumes. In the case of existing buildings, the intervention of qualified technical personnel can certainly address acoustic problems that have not been considered during the design phase or as a result of changes in the use of the structure.

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