The Houseboat is a single house located on a site overlooking Poole Harbour. Our project dealt with the challenge of achieving suitable acoustic conditions for living in this open plan home designed on the Solidspace concept for modern living – a split-level, open plan design.
This new design paradigm demands a new approach to acoustic design, as there are neither references nor literature describing desirable acoustic conditions in such a space. We drew on seminal soundscape principles to prioritise the acoustic issues for the users.
Recent research on urban soundscape has stressed the need to go beyond the traditional approach based on sound levels by considering the way in which the sound environment is perceived, in context, by people. The open plan split-level Solidspace designs pose this parallel challenge in an internal environment. While the open plan nature offers a greater sense of communal living, “noise” can be a problem, along with adverse impact on other occupants. We used the core soundscape qualitative data collection principles of guided interviews and non-participatory observations, as well as reviewing user feedback in both traditional and social media from previous Solidspace developments. This approach enabled us to prioritise users’ acoustic concerns and develop the assessment to respond to these concerns. We used acoustic modelling and auralisation to communicate the acoustic possibilities with the developer.
The radical addition of a soundscape approach to the traditional acoustic design process was pivotal in achieving a transformative design. The acoustic conditions were significantly improved in the three key areas identified by occupiers. Future Solidspace projects will build on the success of the Houseboat. The project demonstrates the power of adopting a soundscape approach to building acoustics design, which has many wide applications.
“The Houseboat is the epitome of a calm retreat, with an interior and outlook that transports you away from the suburbs and directs your attention to the sea and sky”, Wallpaper magazine