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Architecture of listening...

Updated on August 20, 2011

We can always design better by listening to everything that's happening around us...

Architectural Acoustics

Architectural acoustics, a term often achieved as a need to go beyond the visual approach of architectural design. It is the science of noise control within buildings that is attained by integrating audio dimensions of architecture.

When sound is reflected in a volume of space, it creates sound waves that (depending on the quality of a space) can be perceived either pleasantly or disturbingly. According to these waves architects have developed ways to induce and maneuver its effects so that it is not as uncomfortable and painful. For example, when sound is reflected upon straight surfaces, it is reflected to the central part of a certain space, causing sounds to be unclear; and therefore must be avoided.

“Recently engineers have developed a 3D simulation sound system known as Listen. By using this tool, architects would be able to make 3D models (with selected building materials) to help them listen to their design’s architectural acoustics. Architectural design requires that acoustics be well thought and analyzed. That is why the tool “Listen” has the potential to impact the architectural design process positively”[1].

Another issue which lays a positive impact on the way we perceive sounds is that the sound spectrum must remain constant and clear. It is important to avoid overlapping sound waves that project in spaces so that we can offer the best aural experience in our buildings. These are within interior spaces. But Architectural acoustics also involve auralizing urban landscape and visualizing sounds in a considered exterior environment. Creating a better aural environment is important not only to our comfort but also our health. We need not forget to make sure that the architectural acoustics match the architectural function and value of a particular assigned project. In hospitals for example, it is important to provide a peaceful quiet environment for patients, and sounds should travel only where we want them to. Also, in office and business buildings conversations within rooms shouldn’t be a source of distraction and therefore must be sorted accordingly.

By asking one simple question “How will it sound?” we are giving comfort a new form by clearing all distortions and allowing sound to impetrate with our inner soul beautifully. For instance, in hotels and luxurious inns we notice the use of classical musical instruments and fountains that remind us of the beauty of the place we are confided with. We no longer remember the agitations of this world and are embodied by the effect it empowers upon us. These sounds and more allow us to analyze, consider and listen to environments, giving us the opportunity to create more daring and new architectural designs by not just subtracting and dampening sounds, but also by adding sensual sounds to an environment. Dubai was successful in combining this all resulting in an extraordinary project known as the “Musical Fountain” located near the Dubai Mall. The effect was indescribable and as it combines a fountain, music and the beautiful image of a lake; it has truly conveyed the message of beauty. As architecture develops, sound design will become more elaborate. Sound designs will not just “help” occupants reconstruct space, but also help occupants truly interact with their surroundings. And isn’t that what architecture is about?

[1]Dr.Maria Lehman,


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    • Rashad Al profile image

      Rashad Al 6 years ago

      Thank you! Certainly motivates me to write more.

    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 6 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Sound design in architecture is a very interesting concept. I learned something new from reading your extremely well written hub. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rashad Al profile image

      Rashad Al 6 years ago

      Thanks! You can find more about the topic at Maria Lehmans' website:

      I found the "Listen" sound system quite interesting, and certainly something that would come in handy in our designs...

    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 6 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      You conveyed the idea well. I found this article very interesting and well written.

    • sexpressions profile image

      sexpressions 6 years ago from Wherever my imagination sees fit

      Interesting to read! You definitely brought up a valid point, and one that I wouldn't have normally even thought twice about. I love the picture, using the effect of touch for the visual of a sound wave (really neat way to metaphorically incorporate it together). Nice hub :)