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Acoustics for Supportive and Healthy Buildings: Emerging Themes on Indoor Soundscape Research

We are honoured to have contributed to and be listed as an author of this new publication, that will help shape the direction of soundscape research in buildings. The article is open source – free download – you can view and download the full text here (from the MDPI website).

The abstract of this paper describes how the focus of the building industry and research is shifting from simply delivering satisfactory spaces to going beyond what is merely acceptable. There is a wave of new research and practice dedicated to exploring how the built environment can support task performance and enhance people’s health and well-being, rather than simply avoid impeding the activities. Acoustics has a vital role to play in this paradigm shift.

Indoor soundscape research has emerged to bring a perceptual perspective on building and room acoustics; this will help us to shape built environments that “sound good” according to building occupants’ preference and needs. This paper establishes an initial discussion over some of the open questions in this field of research that is still in an embryonic stage. A thematic analysis of structured interviews with a panel of experts offered a range of perspectives on the characterisation, management, and design of indoor soundscapes and health-related outcomes. The discussion pointed out the importance of both perceptual and multi-sensory research as well as integrated participatory design practices to enable a holistic view regarding the complex building–user interrelations and the design of just cities.

Soundscape methodologies tailored to particular indoor soundscapes can help to measure and predict the human perceptual response to the acoustic stimuli in context, thus reducing the risk of mismatches between presumed and real building experiences. This perceptual perspective is expected to widen the scientific evidence for the negative and positive impacts of the acoustic environment on human health, well-being, and quality of life. This will support the priority of acoustics in building design and challenge many current design practices that are based on a noise control approach.

Sustainability202012(15), 6054 https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156054

Published 28 July 2020, this article belongs to the Special Issue Architecture and Salutogenesis: Beyond Indoor Environmental Quality)

Keywords (links search these terms on the MDPI website): indoor soundscapeindoor environmental qualityacoustic design; salutogenesis; well-being; health; experience; people;environmental justice

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