building acoustics2

Building Acoustics

How sound behaves in a building can have a dramatic effect on the experience people have using the space. When done properly, acoustic design improves the educational attainment of children and helps hospital patients recover more quickly. Productivity in offices increases along with staff satisfaction. And, of course, a concert hall isn’t a concert hall if it doesn’t sound amazing.

By using an acoustic consultant on your project, problems such as a lack of privacy between hotel rooms, a highly reverberant restaurant where the noise is unbearable, or being unable to sleep because of the sound of a nearby road, are all easily avoided.

Read on to find out more about our building acoustics expertise

Room Acoustics

Nobody should have to suffer an environment where they can’t easily understand what is being said, where music turns into a mess of noise instead of a transforming experience, or where they can’t concentrate because of the mush of noise all around them. Yet lots of us accept this as part of our everyday lives.

We work in conjunction with the architect and design team to integrate acoustic treatments into a space so they are sympathetic to the design intent as well as meeting the client’s acoustic aspirations for the space.

Using the ODEON acoustic modelling package, we can examine and predict a wide range of acoustic parameters, allowing us to optimise the quantity and placement of acoustic treatments while providing value to our clients.

Sound Insulation

Sound insulation is the level of acoustic separation between spaces. This can be both airborne (e.g. controlling voices, music) and impact (controlling footfall, for example).

It is important to consider sound insulation in any building where acoustic separation and privacy between spaces is essential to their use. This includes residential, educational and commercial settings, mixed use developments with cafes and commercial space directly under apartments and even spaces as diverse as police interview rooms, and music rehearsal rooms.

We control sound insulation by optimising the specification of floor and wall partitions, matching their performance to the specific source we are trying to control. For example, the solution for low frequency music is not the same as for mid frequency speech. Acoustic detailing at partition junctions and for services penetrations is key in ensuring the performance of the wall or floor is not compromised.

Facade Sound Insulation and Ventilation Strategy

In the crossover between environmental noise and building acoustics – quite literally – sit building facades. We use the data gathered from our noise survey, and sometimes from the acoustic model of the site, to assess the level of sound insulation needed to ensure people are not disturbed as they go about their lives. This includes consideration of appropriate noise levels for sleep and rest (BS 8233) and noise levels for commercial and office space where a controlled level of background noise can, in fact, be desirable.

As well as specifying the acoustic performance of glazing and the wall build up, we examine whether external noise levels are such that windows can be opened to provide everyday ventilation or whether alternative systems, from trickle vents to MVHR, are needed. Even in noisy areas, however, we never advocate for sealed windows, believing that occupants should have control over their environment.

Noise from Building Services

Most commercial and performing arts buildings are mechanically ventilated, however, it is becoming a popular option in residential and educational developments. Mechanical ventilation systems generate noise, both from the machinery and fans themselves and from regenerated noise as air flows through the ductwork.

dBx Acoustics’ consultants review the noise data for services equipment and calculate the level of noise transfer to the room served. This includes duct losses and regenerated noise and the effect of the room itself, and using the results, we can specify acoustic attenuators to be installed within the system to control noise levels as required. We also review proposed M&E layouts to identify potential problems and suggest modifications before design is finalised.

Here’s our recent work

dBx helps boost productivity in co-working space

As the workplace evolves, more and more people are working flexibly – whether that be late at night, from a sun terrace in Italy, or in a specially designed co-working space.

Clockwise provide the latter – contemporary private offices and shared workspace with flexible membership plans. With sites in Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow, we were delighted to be asked to work on their “new kid on the dock” at the iconic Edward Pavilion on Liverpool’s world-famous Albert Dock.

Appointed by international construction company Ardmac in 2018 and working alongside architects 74, we were asked to help with specifying partitions between the workspaces. Sound insulation is very important for bustling co-working spaces, helping to provide settings that support different activities, such as having private conversations, focused/individual work and collaborative sessions.

We assisted the partition specification and detailing to maintain sound insulation between different workspaces while ensuring we didn’t impact the fabric of the building, which is a 19th century warehouse with preserved original features, including cast iron columns, Victorian brickwork and barrel vaulted ceilings.

We also worked on building services noise control, particularly on the upper floor, which features air handling units sitting on plant decks suspended within the open plan office space.

A historic building on a historic site, we’re proud to have worked on this challenging and exciting project.

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