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Creating Acoustically Sound Public Spaces

No matter where you are in the world, public spaces are notoriously noisy places. When you think of a railway station, bus station, airport terminal, multipurpose hall, gymnasium or indoor activity space, peace and quiet don’t come to mind. As a society, we’ve become very accustomed to loud public spaces. We may think it’s normal, but it isn’t necessary.

Depending on our jobs and lifestyle stage, many of us pass through public spaces as part of our daily routine. These areas are generally large with a lot of hard, smooth reflective surfaces such as ceramic tiles and glass.

Striking cover image for the Ultimate Guide to Noise Control for Public Spaces, visually representing the significance of managing noise levels in public areas to promote comfort and a positive experience.
Download your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Noise Control for Public Spaces.

Acoustic control in these spaces is necessary because it influences:

  • How easily people communicate
  • How effectively people can concentrate
  • The subconscious impression of an environment
  • The ability of a space to achieve privacy

Under ordinary conditions, sound sources in public spaces include:

  • Voices
  • Footsteps
  • PA announcements

Depending on the location, other noise sources could consist of music, vehicles and machinery.

Airports, Bus and Train Stations

These public indoor spaces have PA systems to make regular, important announcements to customers and visitors. The clarity of these systems will suffer if acoustic products such as absorbers and diffusers are not in place. PA systems are critical in emergencies – if people cannot hear instructions clearly, then there is a possibility of confusion and panic.

Multipurpose Halls, Gymnasiums and Indoor Activity Spaces

Most large spaces, such as assembly halls and sports halls, feature high ceilings and hard surfaces. This creates challenges for users, as

  • Reverberation and flutter echoes will occur if space is not acoustically treated
  • PA system sound quality will be unclear in untreated spaces

Some possible solutions include:

  • Lining walls from at least knee to head height with absorptive panels
  • Lining at least two-thirds of the ceiling with absorptive panels
  • Hanging vertical absorptive baffles below the ceiling
  • Hanging horizontal absorptive clouds from the ceiling

Due to the complexity of internal room acoustic design, we highly recommend engaging an acoustic consultant, at the earliest stage of the design process.

For more information about designing Acoustically Sound Public Spaces, download our eBook or contact us on 1300 827 177.