In the last few weeks of this class we have been discussing how the reflection of light can change the look and feel of a space. However, the same can be said for sound within a space. Architecture reflects sound as well as light and they both help to hint at the form and materiality of a space and both are used to judge the psychological effect of a space. The shape and materials within a space effect the reverberations or lack there of in a given area. Rooms with softer materials and brighter colors usually give a sense of being warm and comfortable because of the soft materials that absorb sound and the bright colors that reflect warmer light. On the other hand, a room with a lack of color and all hard surfaces has a cold and uncomfortable feel because the cool, hard surfaces that lack sound absorption.
Through our lives we experience a variety of spaces that have good acoustics, poor acoustics, and then somewhere in between. Some of the spaces that I have experienced with good acoustics include my parent’s house, my apartment, and the Aycock auditorium. Each of these spaces has an acoustical feel that fits the purpose of the space. The soft interiors of both my parent’s house and my apartment allows for good sound absorption that make the space comfortable. The lack of reverberation in these spaces keeps sound from echoing and making the space too noisy. Aycock auditorium on the other hand has row after row of upholstered seats but the hard surfaces around the stage combined with the sloping roof allow for good auditorium acoustics. Without this you would not be able to hear a performance taking place on stage if you were seated towards the back of the space.
Some of the places that I have experienced with poor acoustically quality include studio, the lobby space in the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and East Coast Wings Restaurant on Tate Street. None of these spaces posses the proper acoustical qualities needed for these types of spaces and their purposes. The studio space is intended to be an instructional and private working space for several different groups at once, however, due to all of the hard surfaces and the high, open ceiling in the IARc space the sound reverberation in the space is unbearable when there are larger numbers of people in the space working on a variety of different things. Often times we will be having class in the studio space and the noise created by other classes elsewhere in the studio is so loud and distracting we have a hard time hearing what our professor is saying. In the lobby of the Weatherspoon Art Museum the space has good acoustical properties but these properties do not fit with the purpose of the space. Art museums are usually intended to be quieter spaces where you can reflect on the artwork that you see, however, the dome ceiling and hard surfaces in this space create so much reverberation even the simplest sound is a major distraction. The same could be said for East Coast Wings restaurant. There is so much sound reverberation within this space due to the larger amounts of people socializing and eating combined with all of the hard surfaces make it hard to talk to the people seated at your own table. More than once I have been in this restaurant with friends, even when it wasn’t crowded, and we have had to yell to each other to be heard over all the background noise in the space.
Both the lighting and the acoustical qualities of a space effect how you feel within the space and how you experience the space. Spaces with large amounts of reverberation tend to make us uncomfortable and want to leave. While spaces that have proper acoustical properties are more comfortable and we are able to remain in these spaces for longer periods of time.