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Residential spaces: Navigating acoustics

Sergio Molho, partner, director of business development, at WSDG, on the importance of acoustics in the home

Modern life asks a lot of our residential spaces and how we use them has completely changed over the last decade. Acoustic design, traditionally associated with highbrow concert halls and recording studios, now plays an important role in shaping the comfort and functionality of our homes as we work, play and relax in ever more flexible areas. 

Technology is becoming more accessible and audio-visual solutions are advancing. High-quality sound experiences are no longer limited to elite consumers. Whether it is a luxury penthouse or a one bedroom apartment, the demand for acoustic comfort is on the rise, with quietness and acoustic serenity becoming essential aspects of modern day living.

ACOUSTIC PLANNING
Acoustic planning covers two main aspects: isolation acoustics, which includes airborne isolation, noise control, vibration control, and internal room acoustics quality. These key elements keep external disturbances out while maintaining a pleasant sound environment internally. 

Managing unwanted noise, sometimes wrongly referred to as ‘soundproofing’, has evolved into a deeper understanding of how sound affects our living environments. Individual acoustic experiences are subjective, but acoustic consultants use scientific, objective measurements, simulations, and computer aided design to assess and address acoustic challenges. This scientific approach ensures that solutions are effective and tailored to the unique characteristics of each residential space.

Contemporary homes now also have to accommodate resident’s professional, working, creative, and educational needs. We describe these rooms as ‘E-Studios’ – multipurpose residential environments equipped with acoustic, ergonomic, and technical tools to meet those diverse requirements.

ENTERTAINMENT CHALLENGES
Dedicated entertainment rooms within residences like home cinemas, gaming and music spaces bring their own set of challenges. These rooms require a deep dive into isolation acoustics and internal room acoustics to ensure they are comfortable, welcoming and fit for purpose. Whether it’s enjoying a late-night movie without disturbing the neighbours, or indulging in a gaming marathon, these spaces require precision in acoustic design to deliver an optimal experience inside and out.

Navigating the acoustic landscape of residential spaces is not just about creating harmonious spaces but also avoiding potential issues. Imagine a luxury penthouse, meticulously designed with exquisite finishes and breathtaking views, ruined by the non-stop rumble of an air conditioner noise coming from the mechanical machine room. 

The reality is that fixing these issues can be expensive. Developers could find themselves faced with hefty bills to rectify acoustic mishaps, from relocating noisy equipment to even redesigning entire spaces to mitigate disturbances.

STAKEHOLDER EDUCATION
Educating the stakeholders who are involved in the project is key to avoiding costly mistakes. Developers, architects, and homeowners need to understand acoustic standards, guidelines, and the impact of materials on sound transmission. Early collaboration with acoustic consultants can prevent sound issues and ensure optimal experiences in residential spaces.

Looking ahead, true integration of acoustics into residential design will continue to improve. Advanced sound isolation materials and immersive audio systems, alongside advancements in smart home systems and AI-driven solutions, will shape the future of residential acoustics and empower homeowners with better control and customisation capabilities.