Wednesday, 9 January 2019

BBC Radio 4 Front investigates acoustics in architecture

The look of a building has always been an essential element in architectural design, but less conspicuous are its acoustic properties. Specialists in acoustic design are frequently engaged to enhance the aural experience of people in a room or a building. Their work ranges from blocking out unwanted noise, such as from passing trains, to providing the optimal sound for the audience and musicians in a concert hall. 

In Wednesday's episode of Front Row, Stig Abell visits Arup,
an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment.

Arup has a virtual sound laboratory which they use to inform the design of some of the world’s best arts and culture venues. A look at Arups website, in particular the projects section, 
reveals the wealth of incredible buildings that they have worked on. 

I am lucky enough to have worked in a variety of their buildings in the UK including Glasgow City Halls, RSNO Centre at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and The Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art. I have also visited a number of their other projects such as Angel of the North, Gateshead, Tate Modern, London and The Tetley in Leeds. 

They demonstrate how the same piece of music can change according to where it is played, and explain that they use SoundLab’s sound simulations (auralisations) to demonstrate to clients the impact that major infrastructure projects such as HS2 will have on communities. These sounds can then be taken into consideration when designing the building.

Stig also talks to Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering, about the history and importance of sound in building design.

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