News & Views
25 May 2021

Soaring demand for student property:
but developers must not neglect the acoustics...

A high number of students in Leeds have already reserved homes for the next academic year, demonstrating a property sector with admirable resilience in a global pandemic. In fact, plans for new student accommodation are taking place nationwide, but development companies must not neglect acoustic considerations in the race to get properties ready for the next influx of students. Here’s three important acoustic factors to remember:

Student living is unlike any other type of accommodation. While one student is cramming for their final exams, another is playing loud music. Student’s sleep schedules, study times and social plans are far from synchronised, and even something as simple as a door slamming early in the morning could be enough to throw a student digs into disarray.

For both on-campus halls of residence, and off-campus private accommodation, this is a complex living dynamic. Student housing is very important, it should be a place where students can relax, study and have friends over, without concerns over noise transfer and disturbances. Without the right acoustic consideration, tension could start to build in student halls.

Room-to-room noise transfer

Within a student accommodation block, each level contains a number of bedrooms, and communal living spaces such as a kitchen, living area and bathroom. Also, on each level is an (often) randomly selected group of students, brought together by chance. While stereotypes may have you believe all students are loud, energetic and ready to party, in reality, all types of personalities are in the mix. Introverted students. Students with chronic health conditions. Students that are highly sensitive to noise. The building needs to cater to all.

Crucially, if one student is watching television in one room, it should not hinder the ability of the student in the adjacent room to concentrate on studying. The links between excess noise and faltering concentration levels are well-documented. Similarly, if a group of people gather in the communal living spaces and inevitably make noise, the rest of the floor should maintain a more tranquil ambiance conducive to studying.

Floor-to-floor noise transfer

Just as sideways noise transfer can impact the wellbeing of students, so too can upwards or downwards noise transfer. A common noise complaint is thuds from the floor above, which can be caused by general footfall, weight drops and many other day-to-day activities. The vibration from the initial impact dissipates throughout the building, which is heard as noise, unless vibration breaks are put in place.

An acoustic consultant will be able to determine the best ways to isolate noise sources and keep students on different floors, friends — not foes.

Block-to-block transfer

News articles on noise problems in university cities are easy to find. While some universities are resorting to warnings and fines to curb noisy behaviour, in 2018, Bristol University made headlines for forcing party-loving students to take classes on how to be better (and more quiet) neighbours. Many argued parties and socialising are part of the student experience, and that punishment like this wasn’t the answer.

A better solution is improved acoustics and sound proofing. Just as a well-designed night club doesn’t disturb nearby residents, a student digs can be equally well suited to its purpose. Of course, student accommodation with impeccable acoustics doesn’t happen by accident, it takes an acoustic consultant with years of experience and knowledge.

The student housing market doesn’t look to be slowing down, and we strongly advise developers to carefully consider building acoustics to ensure their projects result in commercially viable accommodation that supports the wellbeing of students and local residents alike.

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