Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Sound is an element of architectural design, which does not receive the same attention as other architectural elements. Sound plays an important role in our daily lives; and within architecture, every built space containing different shapes, sizes and materials modify the path sounds travels. As described in the text “Hearing Architecture,” people are not normally aware of how much they rely on their sense of hearing to interpret the world around them. Our experience of sound comes from different places we have visited in conjunction with different feelings and experiences.
I used to take piano lessons when I was a teenager. My classes were held in the basement of my teacher’s home. The ceilings in the basement were very high. The teacher was a real artist as exemplified with the decorations of the room. She added acoustical coverings to the ceilings and walls by covering them with egg cartons. The room had a noise-controlled design which was so very good that a person standing on the opposite side of the door could not hear any noise from within the room. I enjoyed being in this space when I played the piano, as the music reverberated about the space. Iran does not have clubs or private places for having parties, so it was a pleasant environment for friends to gather, to enjoy music and dance. We were confident sound would not travel outside the space to disturb others, and we were kept safe from government intervention.
Another good example related to sound and spaces are museums. Sound and music are key elements in the promotion of a museum. As a starting point, it is a method of attracting people since cultural aspects of museums content may be introduced in this manner. One example is the Louvre museum in France which I have visited four years ago. It has a lot of different large exhibitions with different designs and furnishings very close to one another, each with excellent acoustical protection to the adjacent exhibits. The right kind of music is performed in each space without combination of distant sounds distracting the attention in the immediate space. In every exhibition sound continues to reverberate within the massive walls providing a pleasant cultural experience to view the arts.
Another personal experience with very good acoustical design for the space is Saint Vitus's Cathedral church in Prague, Czech. Sound reverberates well within the surroundings of the space to enhance speech and music. The church has a thoughtful building layout to keep noise sources outside the church away from the worship area. Sound is controlled well within the space permitting the music to communicate ideas and concepts while it simultaneously enhances the worship experience through emotional involvement. The acoustics of the worship space have a profound impact on all of these functions. This was one of the most beautiful churches that I have ever seen and the spiritual music made me feel I was closer to God.