Friday, 16 August 2013

Do your interiors create a good first impression with their acoustics?

Six design tips for reception areas with a welcoming ambience
Acoustics is often described as a ‘dark art'. A mysterious subject that’s difficult to master or describe in practical terms.
Our modern buildings, our love of contemporary styled interiors, and the need for light and space - these all throw up complex challenges of unwanted sound.
But in the time I’ve been working with acousticians on the development of our products, I’ve discovered it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
I've found out that solutions can often be surprisingly straightforward.
Simple design measures that make interiors look, and feel good.
Or as sound expert Julian Treasures refers to in his enlightening TED talk “Designed for experience, and appearance”
First dates, interviews, (or first newsletters like this one!)
First impressions count.
A reception area reflects a company’s personality and brand.
As the first point of contact for visitors, it’s important it’s a welcoming space where speech can be clearly understood. And where noise interference is avoided.
Do your reception areas activate all the right senses?
In the spirit of collaboration, I asked acoustician Chris Steel from RMP Acoustics for his thoughts on the design and layout of reception areas.
Receptions are often large, open areas with lots of hard surfaces on floors, walls and furniture. The key is to reduce the reverberation time that gives an echoey feel to the space.
The recommended reverberation time for a large atrium/entrance lobby is 1.5 seconds. For normal reception areas this is 1 second.

Six design tips to create a more welcoming reception area :
  • Locate reception desks away from seating areas so receptionist’s phonecalls and conversations cannot be overheard and visitors can talk quietly amongst themselves. Separating distances of 4-6m are suitable.  Distance of more than 10m should be avoided so that the receptionist can still attract a visitor’s attention.
  • Discourage waiting next to the reception desk to reduce disturbance for other guests or when telephone calls are being taken. Place company literature/visual displays or focal points away from the reception desk.
  • Locate reception desk away from intrusive noise sources such as vending machines, foyer cafes or lifts.
  • Cover approximately 25% of wall areas in an atrium space with absorbent panels. This makes it an easier place to work in because it helps to control overall noise levels and improve speech intelligibility. Using acoustic panels in the wider area can also improve the acoustic environment immediately around the reception desk.
  • Place a low, acoustically absorbent ceiling and/or acoustically absorbent wall linings around the reception desk.
  • Introduce background noise for very quiet reception spaces; low-level ambient music or an active noise masking system, to can help create privacy.
Do you have issues with acoustics in your projects?
Let me know - it would be great to hear from you!

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