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CN Briefing: BCO; design; sound; accoustics; offices

“Don’t you wonder sometimes ‘bout sound and vision?”

When it comes to development, apparently not enough of us do.

So says Julian Treasure, founder of the Sound Agency, who today pleaded with the development industry to think more about sound when designing buildings.

He was making his case against poorly designed open-plan offices at the British Council for Office’s annual conference, which is this year being held in Amsterdam.

Too often, acoustics do not play a part in the design of offices, with most clients only thinking about them at the end of a project and only when there is a problem, he argued.

And he had convincing stats to back up why this attitude was inefficient, with worker productivity falling by 66 per cent in open-plan offices and sound being the number one complaint for workers.

Mr Treasure believes that through good design and “marrying the senses” together, you can deliver brilliant buildings.

He concluded his presentation with four ‘pillars of sound’ to consider in design.

  • Acoustics: Something that should be thought of all the way through a project. How will different materials work with each other? From the height of the room to the concrete floor to the metal chairs that will furnish the room: how will that sound? And how will it affect the end-user?
  • Noise sources: Design and build office space with flexible use in mind. Tenants will have different working modes throughout the day. Treasure suggests creating collaborative, concentration, contemplation and communication areas.
  • Sound systems: Invest in a good quality sound system for the buildings you are developing. Whether it’s for meeting rooms or elsewhere in the building, do not let this be value-engineered out of the process.
  • Content: “Start with silent and decorate it,” Mr Treasure said. He challenged the industry to add sound into buildings to improve the working environment.

Clients, consultants and contractors were all captivated by the session.

But many later told me sound wasn’t something that factored into their development process. Perhaps now it will be.

In the news

EDF has admitted the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant might cost up to £21bn to build. In addition, completion on the troubled project may also now be delayed until 2026. 

Heathrow is considering introducing a congestion charge to pay for transport improvement work if it gets the nod for a third runway. It hopes to raise £50m annually if the plans go ahead.

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