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Designing for Acoustic Comfort in Offices

Designing for Acoustic Comfort in Offices

Function

Pros

 

Cons

Observations & Recommendations

Reception areas/circulation space

Background noise levels low

Occasional spikes in noise are well-tolerated

 

Impact sound from foot traffic

Phones ringing and loud speech

Often feature hard surfaces and high ceilings, especially if located in an atrium

 

Not normally acoustically sensitive

Design in soft surfaces, eg rugs, reverb control panels, acoustic art

Breakout and social/third space

Background noise will be well-tolerated

Design language and materials often vary from the norm giving scope for soft furnishings

Need to cater for a variety of different users

Can become noisy

Zone according to different activities and design in flexibility – could users reconfigure the furniture on an ad hoc basis?

Introduce soft surfaces and ceiling rafts

Introduce screens or pods minimum 1600mm high

 

Quiet study

Not space-hungry so can be fitted into under-utilized space

Tend to have very low ambient noise levels  and users are intolerant of disturbances

 

Consider location and orientation

Are doors required?

Design should include sound insulating and sound absorptive materials

 

Large open plan offices

High ambient sound levels create a buzz

Users are generally tolerant of background noise

Space gives scope for zoning and design features

Multiple telephone conversations can lead to feedback down phones and staff fatigue

Large offices with high ceilings, eg call centres, can suffer from chaotic, diffuse reverb

Limited wall space for reverb control panels

 

Zone different activities by noise level

Centralize and surround equipment with acoustic screens

Introduce ceiling rafts and workpods

Introduce screens or pods minimum 1600mm high between work clusters or desk-up screens minimum 400mm high between workstations

 

Small open plan offices

Low ambient noise levels

 

Low ambient noise levels

Auditory distraction can be a problem because of mix of activities

Users tend to call across office

Limited wall space for reverb control panels

 

Zone different activities by noise level

Centralize and surround equipment with acoustic screens

Introduce ceiling rafts and workpods

Introduce sound masking, eg HVAC, locate where moderate traffic noise experienced or play soft music

Introduce desk-up screens minimum 400mm high between workstations