Planning a project where you need to consider multifunctional use of a space? Here, acoustics are essential to ensuring your project successfully serves a variety of purposes, without interference. Jacob Tyler, Senior Acoustic Consultant & Technical Manager at acoustics consultancy KP Acoustics Group, explores the three key acoustic considerations you should be making.
Are you looking to develop a coworking space that caters to the needs of silent workers, collaborative groups, or those finding themselves in back-to-back meetings? Perhaps you’ve been tasked with planning the development of student accommodation that needs to incorporate space to act both as a social area and a study area. You might even be looking to build a nightclub, bar or restaurant a-top of a hotel filled with peaceful sleepers.
Developing multifunctional spaces that cater to the various needs of the end user requires careful acoustic planning in the early stages to ensure both optimal sound quality and minimal disturbances between distinct functions. But what key factors should you consider to create an acoustically sound environment?
1. Layout and Zoning
When planning and designing a multifunctional development, the first step to consider is how best to lay out and ‘zone’ the space. Placing a noisy bar on a partnering wall with a quiet restaurant that offers a relaxed, fine dining experience, or a music studio next to a high-focus office space will likely cause you complications that are costly to address further down the line.
So, taking the right approach to designing a viable layout to curate successful interior soundscapes will make a critical difference. It’s important to consider both aesthetic and architectural aspirations and look to balance these with any construction or acoustic constraints. Whilst not always easy, striking this balance is key to making sure that your space works acoustically. Gaining bespoke acoustic advice determined through site inspections, and careful planning, will provide you with a viable acoustic design for a multifunctional space that is strong and thorough; leaving no room for errors.
2. Sound Insulation
It may seem obvious, but preventing sound transmissions between areas of varying functions is vital to creating multifunctional spaces that stand the test of time. No matter the intended purpose of a space, if unwanted sound can travel between areas of opposing functions, your end goal will probably not be achieved. Considering the use of materials that offer high-quality sound insulation for walls, floors, ceilings and more helps to contain noise within each designated space and minimise sound leakage.
Onboarding a team of acoustic consultants to offer highly specialised advice on upgrade solutions can be hugely beneficial here. Acoustic experts can work to conduct a site inspection during the early stages of development to gain an initial impression of the sound insulation performance, combined with a sound insulation investigation. From here, a good consultant will work with you to recommend sound insulation and acoustic detailing to ensure each space serves its intended function – without interference.
3. Acoustic Separation and Vibration Control
The third piece to the puzzle is acoustic separation and vibration control. You may have worked hard to limit sound leakage through sound insulation techniques, careful layout design and zoning, but factoring in acoustic separation and vibration control should be the final step to consider when creating acoustically sound multifunctional spaces. Incorporating dedicated soundproof rooms within a larger space for activities that require complete isolation may work in some instances, but it’s important to consider taking this one step further with vibration control assessments.
For example, placing a fully-equipped fitness suite anywhere but the ground floor and/or basement of a building will likely cause structure-borne noise or vibration through the floor to the levels below. In order to control sound reverberation and unwanted vibration between such multifunctional spaces, you must consider acoustic treatments such as absorptive materials and structural isolation.
Conducting noise and vibration control assessments will not only save you money further down the line but will also ensure that your multifunctional development project works successfully for those you intend to utilise the space – it’s a win-win scenario. Here, onboarding a team of acoustic consultants that can provide specialised advice for a wide range of noise and vibration control scenarios will help you to determine the measures needed to control vibration transfer, reduce excess reverberation and prevent noise breakout during the planning phase – avoiding issues cropping up further down the line.
From layout and sound insulation to acoustic separation and vibration control, addressing these three key considerations in the early planning phases and consulting with an acoustic design professional will help you to accurately determine the specific needs of the multifunctional space you’re looking to develop.
Plus, expert acoustic consultancy can also facilitate acoustic assessments and provide you with tailored recommendations to achieve a variety of desired acoustic performances – without unwanted intrusion.
KP Acoustics is a full-spectrum acoustics consultancy. Get in touch with an experienced consultant by calling 020 3820 5564 or visiting kpacoustics.com.