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Acoustics: The Latest Architecture and News

14 Outstanding Concert Halls: A Perfect Match Between Acoustics and Aesthetics

07:00 - 15 May, 2019
14 Outstanding Concert Halls: A Perfect Match Between Acoustics and Aesthetics, © Jakub Certowicz
© Jakub Certowicz

When we think about a perfect match between acoustics and good design it may not be as easy as it seems. A number of technical decisions in order to make an interior space acoustically efficient -and to achieve its programmatic purpose correctly- can make some of the architect's design intentions fade and be replaced by standard and prefabricated panels.

In this article, we present a selection of architecture projects that are able to create a memorable visual impact as well as an impeccable interior solution for acoustics. These are our favorite 14 music venues that fascinate inside and out.

© Simon Menges © Adam Mørk Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects © Ema Peter + 32

Keys To Improve Architectural Acoustics: Sound Absorption and Diffusion

07:00 - 12 April, 2019
Cortesia de Acoustical Surfaces
Cortesia de Acoustical Surfaces

"Acoustics" in architecture means improving sound in environments. Although it is a complex science, understanding the basics - and making efficient and effective decisions - is much easier than you might think. The first step is to understand that there are two technical categories used in acoustics: soundproofing and acoustical treatment. Soundproofing means "less noise" and treatment, "better sound".

Basic Principles of Acoustics: Why Architects Shouldn’t Leave It All To Consultants

04:00 - 11 February, 2019
Basic Principles of Acoustics: Why Architects Shouldn’t Leave It All To Consultants, © ELEMENT
© ELEMENT

More than half the world’s population lives in dense urban areas. Uncomfortably loud restaurants, stores, hotels, or offices are enough to keep patrons away. When planning a meeting or even a night out with friends, we are conscious of selecting a location where we can focus and hear one another. The noisier our world gets, the more difficulty we have focusing on the sounds we actually want to hear.

Since the beginning of time, our ears have warned us of approaching danger. While their function remains the same, the dangers of today are different than they were in the past. Unwanted sounds can have serious health effects such as: hearing loss, cardiovascular disease high blood pressure, headaches, hormonal changes, psychosomatic illnesses, sleep disorders, reduction in physical and mental performance, stress reactions, aggression, constant feelings of displeasure and reduction in general well-being. With this laundry list of side effects, it would be foolish to leave the acoustic comfort of our spaces up to consultants alone. When we take acoustic comfort into our own hands, the end result can be quite extraordinary.

© Saint-Gobain / illustration by Elisa Géhin © Saint-Gobain / illustration by Elisa Géhin © Saint-Gobain / illustration by Elisa Géhin © Saint-Gobain / illustration by Elisa Géhin + 24

How To Improve Acoustic Comfort with Perforated Cardboard Plasterboards

06:00 - 25 November, 2018
How To Improve Acoustic Comfort with Perforated Cardboard Plasterboards, Cortesía de Romeral
Cortesía de Romeral

There are many ways to solve the acoustic comfort of the interior spaces we design, using materials and solutions of different prices and appearances. Perforated cardboard gypsum boards are an economical and efficient option to incorporate into projects, absorbing the sound and reducing the noise level generated by the reverberation through different patterns and shapes.

Applied mainly in schools, offices, shopping centers, restaurants, lobbies, and hospitals, gypsum boards are easy to install and can deliver high-quality aesthetic results in ceilings and coatings.

Universidad Andrés Bello. Image Cortesía de Romeral Universidad Andrés Bello. Image Cortesía de Romeral Cortesía de Romeral Cortesía de Romeral + 15

This Sound-Proof Installation was Built by Compressing Concrete and Bubble Wrap

05:00 - 11 October, 2018
This Sound-Proof Installation was Built by Compressing Concrete and Bubble Wrap, © Per Lundström
© Per Lundström
© Per Lundström
© Per Lundström

An installation at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden is made entirely of translucent concrete panels. Composed of concrete and bubble wrap, the site blends both high and low technology processes. This high-tech lecture hall is an amorphous space with unique acoustic qualities. 

The panels were created by compressing High-Performance Concrete between two layers of Bubble-Wrap. With 262,500 cavities and 1,000,000 membrane-perforations, the material creates a diffused echo-free ambiance.

This Proposed Music Center Honors the Unique Birthplace of Polish Composer Frédéric Chopin

08:00 - 20 July, 2018
This Proposed Music Center Honors the Unique Birthplace of Polish Composer Frédéric Chopin, © ELEMENT
© ELEMENT

Located in a small village in Poland, this proposed music center honors the birthplace of famous Polish composer and pianist, Frédéric Chopin. Designed by ELEMENT as a part of an international competition, the Chopin Music Center captures the picturesque landscape of endless forests through "leisure and relaxation."

The Center integrates with the park through window views of Frédéric Chopin's birth house and the surrounding landscape. The proposed international music center utilizes a combination of natural materials and glazing to create a seamless connection with its site. The existing park can be reached by pathways and bridges near the building, prompting visitors to experience the outdoor area.

© ELEMENT © ELEMENT © ELEMENT © ELEMENT + 25

Eco-Friendly Insulation Offers Thermal Performance, Sound Absorption and Fire Resistance at the Same Time

14:00 - 25 February, 2018
Eco-Friendly Insulation Offers Thermal Performance, Sound Absorption and Fire Resistance at the Same Time, Cortesía de Rootman SpA
Cortesía de Rootman SpA

With the aim of promoting more efficient ways to isolate and protect building envelopes, the Chilean team Rootman has developed Thermoroot; a biodegradable and 100% natural insulation made from roots without genetic modifications or chemical additives. These roots make up what the company is calling a Radicular Mattress which, in addition to thermally and acoustically insulating the walls, floors, and ceilings of buildings, it is fire resistant.

Cortesía de Rootman SpA Cortesía de Rootman SpA Cortesía de Rootman SpA Cortesía de Rootman SpA + 13

Listening Series: Playing Spaces

16:01 - 3 January, 2018
Listening Series: Playing Spaces, Jenny Chen performing under Domo at the Tippet Rise Art Center, 2016.   Design by Ensamble Studio (Anton Garcia-Abril and Debora Mesa). Photograph by Iwan Baan.
Jenny Chen performing under Domo at the Tippet Rise Art Center, 2016. Design by Ensamble Studio (Anton Garcia-Abril and Debora Mesa). Photograph by Iwan Baan.

With Argeo Ascani, Anne Guthrie, Zev Greenfield, Margaret Anne Schedel, Elaine Sisman, Emily Thompson, and Peter Zuspan

Moderated by Willem Boning and Curt Gambetta

Performance by Daniel Neumann

In architecture, spatial thinking is at the core of the design process. In music, however, space is often considered a surface effect, a veneer of “good” or “bad” acoustics that is applied to sound rather than grounding it. But music is inherently spatial. As it travels from a source to our ears, music is transformed by the air, the surrounding architecture, and the shape of our own bodies. A number of musicians from across time

Contemporary Concert Halls Have Become Multi-Functional Catalysts for Urban Change

10:30 - 3 December, 2017
Contemporary Concert Halls Have Become Multi-Functional Catalysts for Urban Change, Left and bottom-right: Harpa Concert Hall, image Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects; top-right: Philharmonie de Paris, image © Danica O Kus
Left and bottom-right: Harpa Concert Hall, image Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects; top-right: Philharmonie de Paris, image © Danica O Kus

In their video series for the November 2017 World Architecture Festival, PLANE—SITE delves into contemporary concert hall design. The five films highlight major themes in today’s musical architecture through an interactive, multimedia panel. Using Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Wroclaw’s National Forum of Music, and the Philharmonie de Paris as examples, the videos show how contemporary concert halls are more technological and multi-functional than ever before, demonstrating how architecture redefines the modern-day musical performance experience.

The series acted as a starting point for a conversation between the WAF audience and panelists, moderated by PLANE—SITE’s Andres Ramirez. Panelists included Michel Cova of dUCKS scéno, Tateo Nakajima of Arup, and Jacob Kurek of Henning Larsen.

Ethereal Riverside Theatre and Garden To Be Canada's Newest Destination

12:00 - 23 September, 2017
Ethereal Riverside Theatre and Garden To Be Canada's Newest Destination, Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects
Courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

North America’s largest classical repertory theatre company, the Stratford Festival revealed Hariri Pontarini Architects’ design for their new Tom Patterson Theatre at a town hall meeting last month. According to Antoni Cimolino, the Stratford Festival’s Artistic Director, the company desires a new facility that compares to distinguished theatres worldwide.

How to Design Theater Seating, Shown Through 21 Detailed Example Layouts

10:30 - 16 November, 2016
How to Design Theater Seating, Shown Through 21 Detailed Example Layouts

Audience sightlines, accessibility and acoustics all make theater seating a hugely precise art. As part of their set of online resources for architects and designers, the team at Theatre Solutions Inc (TSI) have put together a catalog of 21 examples of theater seating layouts. Each layout is well detailed, with information on the number of seats, the floor seating area and row spacing. These layouts fall under three general forms; to supplement this information, alongside TSI's diagrams we've included the pros and cons of each type, as well as examples of projects which use each format. Read on for more.

The Blyth Performing Arts Centre / Stevens Lawson Architects. Image © Mark Smith Theatre Agora / UNStudio. Image © Iwan Baan       Ulumbarra Theatre / Y2 Architecture. Image © Peter Clarke Hamburg Elbphilharmonie / Herzog & de Meuron. Image © Iwan Baan       + 32

TheatreSquared Reveals Designs for Permanent Facility

08:00 - 10 November, 2016
TheatreSquared Reveals Designs for Permanent Facility, © TheatreSquared
© TheatreSquared

On November 3, TheatreSquared Executive Director Martin Miller and Artistic Director Robert Ford unveiled the completed plans for the company’s new permanent home, a 50,000 square-foot building in Fayetteville, Arkansas designed by London-based theater planners Charcoalblue and New York–based Marvel Architects. The new building will include two theaters, a rehearsal space, staff offices, design workshops, a community space, a 24-hour cafe/bar, three levels of outdoor public space, and a separate building housing eight guest artist apartments.

© TheatreSquared © TheatreSquared © TheatreSquared © TheatreSquared + 6

Michael Kimmelman and The NYT Release Multimedia Presentation on Why "Sound Matters"

09:30 - 1 January, 2016
Michael Kimmelman and The NYT Release Multimedia Presentation on Why "Sound Matters", With their Moscow Metro proposal, Variant Studio attempted to design "the world's quietest metro platform". Image Courtesy of Variant Studio
With their Moscow Metro proposal, Variant Studio attempted to design "the world's quietest metro platform". Image Courtesy of Variant Studio

"During the Middle Ages, smell was the unspoken plague of cities," writes New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman. "Today it is sound." In his latest article, entitled "Dear Architects: Sound Matters," Kimmelman breaks down an often-overlooked element of architectural design, explaining how space shapes sound, and how sound shapes our experience of a space - and imploring architects to put more thought into the sonic environments created by their designs.

O+A: In Search of Optimal Office Design

01:00 - 10 May, 2014
O+A: In Search of Optimal Office Design,  The Giant Pixel Corporation: This software development company in San Francisco occupies three tight floors of largely open-plan space. “We tried to provide different levels of acoustical privacy,” says O+A cofounder Denise Cherry. “The fully enclosed conference room is for confidential conversations, but you also have in-between spaces, like the canopied cabanas, which are connected to the work area—connected to the open plan—but still have some acoustic and even some visual separation.” Conference room ceiling made of recording-studio foam manufactured by Auralex. Image © Jasper Sanidad
The Giant Pixel Corporation: This software development company in San Francisco occupies three tight floors of largely open-plan space. “We tried to provide different levels of acoustical privacy,” says O+A cofounder Denise Cherry. “The fully enclosed conference room is for confidential conversations, but you also have in-between spaces, like the canopied cabanas, which are connected to the work area—connected to the open plan—but still have some acoustic and even some visual separation.” Conference room ceiling made of recording-studio foam manufactured by Auralex. Image © Jasper Sanidad

Although office design has dramatically and drastically changed over the course of the 20th century, we aren't finished yet. San Francisco firm O+A is actively searching for today's optimal office design, designing work spaces to encourage both concentration and collaboration by merging elements from the cubicle-style office with those popularized by Steve Jobs. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Noises Off,” Eva Hagberg takes a look at some of their built works.

In the beginning was the cubicle. And the cubicle was almost everywhere, and the cubicle held almost everyone, and it was good. Then there was the backlash, and the cubicle was destroyed, put aside, swept away in favor of the open plan, the endless span of space, floor, and ceiling—punctuated by the occasional column so that the roof wouldn’t collapse onto the floor plate—and everyone talked about collaboration, togetherness, synergy, randomness and happenstance. Renzo Piano designed a New York Times building with open stairways so writers and editors could (would have to) run into one another, and everyone remembered the always-ahead-of-the-curve Steve Jobs who, when he was running Pixar, asked for only two bathrooms in the whole Emeryville building, and insisted they be put on the ground floor lobby so that designers and renderers could (would have to) run into each other, and such was the office culture of the new millennium.

And then there was the backlash to the backlash. Those writers wanted their own offices, and editors wanted privacy, and not everyone wanted to be running into people all the time, because not everyone was actually collaborating, even though their bosses and their bosses’ bosses said that they should, because collaboration, teamwork, and togetherness—these were the new workplace buzzwords. Until they weren’t. Until people realized that they were missing—as architect Ben Jacobson said in a Gensler sponsored panel on the need to create a balance between focus and collaboration—the concept of “parallel play,” i.e. people working next to each other, but not necessarily with each other. Until individuality came back, particularly in San Francisco in the tech scene, and particularly in the iconoclastic start-up tech scene, where people began to want something a little different.

Yelp:  The cafeteria at Yelp's 110,000-square-foot campus in San Francisco features warm wood walls and light-emitting ropes. Image © Jasper Sanidad  The Tectum ceiling panels (above) appear to be largely aesthetic. “They make a beautiful pattern, but it’s not a random one,” Cherry says. “By offsetting those vertical baffles, you’re creating a series of sound barriers, so they’re actually doing double duty”. Image © Jasper Sanidad A felt canopied cabana inside the Giant Pixel offices in San Francisco. “We are open-office fanatics,” says Verda Alexander at O+A. “But it’s too simple to say a space is just open plan, because at the same time we’re creating ‘other’ spaces that mix with open-plan work areas.”  Partial acoustic and visual separation made possible by felt material manufactured by Filzfelt. Image © Jasper Sanidad  Capital One Labs:  The bank has created entrepreneurial Capital One Labs in three cities: Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco. The Bay Area outpost, designed by O+A, has 35 full-time employees operating in an open-plan space that looks and feels like a hotel lobby. The fully upholstered cubby is, Cherry says, “a cozy place to tuck away. Even though it’s really just a big open workplace, we also created these quiet little respites.”  The fully upholstered cubby, lined with Paul Smith Plaid cloth by Maharam, isolates sound while still maintaining a visual link to the rest of the space. Image © Jasper Sanidad + 8

TED Talk: Why Architects Need to Use their Ears / Julian Treasure

19:00 - 28 September, 2012

In architecture we talk about space and form. We talk about experience and meaning. All of these qualities are inextricably the sensory experience of light, touch, smell and sound. Sound expert Julian Treasure asks architects to consider designing for our ears, citing that the quality of the acoustics of a space affect us physiologically, socially, psychologically and behaviorally.

More after the break.