Seeing and hearing are key to perception. Optimal room acoustics are as essential as lighting for teaching and successful learning. Learning in educational institutions is still based on communication, even in the multimedia age of indispensable mobile devices. New didactics of reading and writing, as well as kinaesthetic forms of teaching, are – in themselves – already louder than teacher-centred instruction. A new challenge. Optimal room acoustics improve speech and reading comprehension as well as memory performance, lead to lower noise stress and reduce voice and hearing problems.
Activities in a classroom differ from those in specialised rooms, in the canteen, in general shared spaces, or in a sports hall. Therefore, each room must be considered separately. The most important indicators are the current noise level, measured in decibels [dB], the reverberation time (seconds [s]) and the speech intelligibility – Speech Transmission Index (STI).
The planning must consider which teaching or learning methods are used, whether lectures, group work, discussions, the use of machines, equipment, or instruments. All this is relevant for interior design.
How many people is the room intended for? For what age? Are there any impairments? Noise increases hormone secretion, leads to tension, and increases the heart rate, thus significantly influencing well-being and health.
Relevant factors here are the room size, shape, and volume, as well as the surface finish, and the furniture. All these factors influence the noise level, reverberation time, and speech intelligibility. The good thing is that retrofitting is always possible.
A classroom must allow for mutual intelligibility of students and teachers. The Speech Intelligibility Index (STI) indicates the percentage of spoken information reaching the listener. It lies in the range between 0 (incomprehensible) and 1 (excellent) and should be adapted to the different groups in the room. It is important to reduce the reverberation time, especially in larger classrooms, and to direct the sound to achieve good speech intelligibility throughout the room.
The STI nominal value in teaching classes is regulated by the DIN 60286-16 standard and is at least 0.62. In the equipped simulation, the STI is 0.71 – even complex messages and unknown vocabulary can thus be very well captured.
Eat, drink, and relax. Many people meet in the cafeteria. High sound levels are created by conversations or the clinking of crockery and the constant coming and going of people. The reverberation time must be reduced to enable conversations and to minimise the propagation of sound into adjacent areas.
The reverberation time is regulated by the standards DIN 18041 and ÖNORM B 8115-3. Depending on the dimensions, there is a specified maximum reverberation time of about 0.5 seconds. The reverberation time of the empty canteen is 2.58s in our simulation, which we dropped to 0.55s in the equipped room.
Music lessons, laboratories, workshops, computer classes: Specialised classrooms of all kinds are rooms with the most diverse requirements in terms of acoustics, hygiene, and light. People are lecturing, requiring good speech intelligibility, and loud equipment is being used. The reduced reverberation time also lowers the sound pressure level. This happens both through the reduction of reverberation and calmer behaviour of those in the room.
We achieved a 10dB reduction in the sound pressure level (SPL) in our example, thanks to acoustic measures. This corresponds to a halving of the perceived volume.
These spaces often represent a building's heart and are often used as communication hubs. They often set the atmosphere of the entire building. A corridor often serves as a hangout space and is used as a learning area and group workspace during lessons. A high noise level in the corridor disturbs those who are in the corridor and anyone in adjacent rooms.
The measures taken in this simulation result in a 10dB SPL reduction. People in this area can study in peace and quiet without disturbing adjacent classes.
Sports, especially competitions and ball sports, are often associated with high sound levels. There is a tendency to also slightly underestimate how important it is to be able to give clear and prompt instructions without having to shout. This applies to teachers and trainers who spend extended periods in the sports hall, and it also helps to prevent accidents.
A very good reverberation time and speech intelligibility is delivered by a well-thought-out acoustic concept. In this simulation, the reverberation time of over 4 seconds in an empty room is reduced to 1.1 seconds. This also has a very positive effect on speech intelligibility. The STI increases from 0.48 to over 0.70.
Acoustics are complex and affects well-being, the daily work routine, and human health. The requirements often cannot be covered by the product portfolio of a single company. Therefore, we work with a network of different partners to perfectly coordinate light and acoustics.
We offer acoustic planning in three service packages, which include different services depending on room size and specific project requirements. We design different variants for each project, including an acoustically optimised best-case scenario. If you have any questions or would like personalised advice on your project, please contact us.