COMPANY: Apex Acoustics
PROJECT: The APEAL Method: Acoustic Performance EvaluAtion through Listening
SPONSOR: Mason UK Ltd
The vision of the client was for a space that created different types of environments for learning by different people to work in different ways, throughout the year. The acoustic design would be integral to achieving an environment that worked in practice. There were no precedents for the diversity of environments that the client sought to achieve over a relatively small floor plate, while maintaining a sense of a single open plan space.
The Reading Room combines a wide variety of settings for individual study, collaboration and socialisation: its utilisation is testament to its success. The design enables conflicting uses in close proximity. The APEAL Method – Acoustic Performance EvaluAtion through Listening – is a way of capturing and reproducing the acoustic environment of a building in use, in a way that is aurally accurate. APEAL films combine point of view video footage with point of audition audio recording. This means that what you see and hear when you listen through headphones is exactly what the person standing at that point in the building saw and heard, with binaural sound. Although it may be surprising, this is a very unconventional filmmaking technique, fraught with new problems. Taking a human-centred approach, APEAL enables acoustics to be part of a participatory design process, improving outcomes for stakeholders. The APEAL Method represents a paradigm shift from talking acoustic jargon for the empty, unoccupied building acoustic performance.
This project illustrates how acoustics can be explained and demonstrated to those outside the sector. The technique can be used on other new buildings and allows the acoustic performance to be demonstrated by listening. The project also used the draft standard, and soundscape principles to show application of emerging guidance in a creative way. It is a good example of presenting information about how a building will sound to the users and deserves recognition for the initiative in providing people with aural information.