The ultimate utility and function of teaching areas is highly dependent on the control of both external and internal noise.
The following sources can be present and can increase background noise levels such that intelligibility is impacted:
- Mechanical and hydraulic services (eg. air conditioning, plumbing, fire)
- Noise emanating from equipment racks, projectors and other active equipment
- Structure-borne noise and vibration from other locations in the building
- Noise ingress from adjacent spaces, corridors, road traffic or outdoor activities (including rain, sports, events, etc.)
Rooms and buildings can be designed to reduce the ingress of noise into learning spaces, and specialist advice should be sought from an acoustic consultant to ensure that correct mitigation strategies form part of the design.
Space planners will need to consider a number of competing factors, including the relative sensitivities of each space to noise, adjacencies (the requirements areas surrounding each space) and logical ‘blocking and stacking’ of groups of spaces.
The choice of layout, construction methods, materials and finish should then be carefully guided by the space planning and the need to provide spaces with acceptable acoustic performance for the required use.
Particular care should be given to selection and detailing of walls, windows, doors and ceilings. Special treatment may be required in the vicinity of high noise zones such as plant rooms.
The acoustic consultant will need to provide a written recommendation of appropriate strategies to the architect (and other services teams) to achieve a level of ambient noise that is neither so high as to affect planned activities nor so low that users feel unnerved by the quiet.