AECOM Acoustics offers innovative sound demonstrations to support acoustic design, planning and stakeholder engagements for Environmental developments or Building projects. AECOM’s Immersive Sound Studio makes understanding acoustics intuitive, by allowing design teams, clients and other stakeholders to listen to options.
Soundscapes really matter to people. Whether indoors or outdoors, soundscapes have a direct impact on our health and wellbeing. So it’s no surprise that people tend to fear the worst when developments are planned near where they live or work.
But what if developers could dispel those fears by enabling people to directly experience their future soundscapes? Imagine hearing what a planned road, railway or city development will sound like before it’s even built. Imagine hearing what the construction work will sound like. AECOM’s Immersive Sound Studio (ISS) enables you to do just that.
ISS is an industry-leading facility that draws on decades of independent research to accurately simulate soundscape scenarios. Our simulations help to allay people’s fears by enabling them to easily hear and intuitively understand what planned changes to their built environment will mean for their soundscapes. It’s an approach that significantly improves how plans can be communicated to stakeholders and to the public.
How does it work?
ISS works in a similar way to ‘surround sound’. Unlike mono or stereo, ISS leads listeners’ hearing to perceive sound sources at the desired sound level and the desired direction and distance. This can be done via headphones or a group of loudspeakers. It can be used to simulate sound from any given environment, from static and moving sound sources, man-made or natural. Sounds might include industrial plants, building services, announcement loudspeakers, transportation, musicians or the natural world. This immersion is key – it allows you to engage with a simulated soundscape by enabling you to naturally and passively listen as well as critically locate and judge individual sound sources.
What are the benefits?
ISS helps you to analyse and design different acoustic interventions, then present options to your stakeholders and to the public.
Imagine being able to show people what their new stadium, concert hall or airport will sound like, the impact of a new highway or railway, and the benefits that noise mitigation will provide. Developers can also easily communicate the steps they are taking to reduce noise during construction or the operational phase of a development.
The comfort, function and aesthetics of a space depend as much on the acoustic performance as its visual aspects. We all know buildings where we can’t hear ourselves speak, where the PA system is unintelligible, or where we can hear noise from the next room.
Auralisation and visualisation have been used for consultation events on environmental impacts. It makes noise and visual impact intuitive to understand and accessible to a wider demographic, while helping to allay fears and communicate key facts.
Auralisation allows us to hear how a proposed development will change noise levels, enabling designers to provide better mitigation when designing major infrastructure. We can also listen to how different materials in an auditorium affect sound quality, enabling designers to deliver the best audience experience at the best price.
This major project saw AECOM develop and deploy pioneering immersive sound demonstrations for the first time in a UK major road scheme statutory public consultation. Planned upgrades to the A303 – Amesbury to Berwick Down Scheme – include junction improvements and a tunnel that will reduce traffic congestion as well as the noise and visual impact of traffic on the World Heritage Site.
Working together with Highways England, our Immersive Sound Studio developed an innovative solution that has set a new engagement benchmark for highways infrastructure bodies by making noise and visual impact intuitive to understand and accessible to a wider demographic. The approach played a key role in allaying public concern and communicating key facts about the scheme to stakeholders.
Our solution is innovative because it entailed the development of new techniques to remove existing traffic noise from the ambient sound recordings and to auralise the sound of traffic on the realigned or upgraded road.
Waterloo Station, London
Waterloo Station is the busiest rail terminus in the UK, with Network Rail reporting more than 230 million passenger journeys to and from the station each year. The London Railway Upgrade Plan aims to get the capital’s rail network ready for a 30 per cent increase in journeys at peak times.
As part of refurbishments at Waterloo, AECOM’s acoustic specialists designed the public address and voice alarm systems (PAVA). The station’s distinctive arched roof is celebrated architecturally but the glass and steel structure makes it difficult to ensure the quality of speech and intelligibility of public announcements, particularly in life-safety systems.
We used our mobile Immersive Sound Studio to present acoustic simulations which compared the effectiveness of the PAVA in communicating information to the public at key locations around the platforms and concourse areas.
Interactive sound demonstration allowed listeners to switch between different acoustic scenarios at each location, enabling Network Rail to confidently focus investment where it was most needed.
Theatre Royal and Rankine Hall, Glasgow
Sound quality is fundamental to enjoying performances in theatres and auditoriums.
The Scottish Opera orchestra was keen to perform at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, where musicians sit in the orchestra pit. AECOM performed acoustic tests to adapt the theatre so that the orchestra could perform on stage.
We designed a 3D computer model of the space to predict the room response and to develop an orchestra shell similar to those at many world-class concert venues.
Using our mobile Immersive Sound Studio, we delivered an interactive sound demonstration. This auralisation enabled stakeholders to hear the sound quality at a number of seating positions, both with and without the orchestra shell in place. We also provided design advice for other Theatre Royal spaces, including its 500-seat auditorium, rehearsal spaces, music practice rooms and art gallery.
In addition, Scottish Opera appointed AECOM to improve the acoustic conditions of Rankine Hall. Our results showed that the vaulted ceiling was focusing the sound through the centre of the space, so we developed solutions to reduce this effect. Our final design solution took into account the curved ceiling to improve the overall acoustics of the space. We also tuned the hall’s acoustics for string quartets, singing and piano recitals.
Copyright James Glossop